Although plans announced in early 2017 regarding the upkeep and funding of the nation’s transportation infrastructure have so far gone nowhere, a new Congressional proposal directly addresses the controversial issue of raising fuel taxes for such projects.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster is calling for increasing the federal gasoline and diesel tax by 15 cents per gallon and 20 cents per gallon, respectively.
Those increases, according to Shuster’s plan, would be phased in over a three-year period, and would positively impact what the Congressional Budget Office says is a current $50 billion need in annual highway improvements, along with an ongoing maintenance funding gap of $14 billion.
If passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump, Shuster’s plan would both keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent, while also creating a Highway Trust Fund Commission whose mission would be to conduct a comprehensive study of the current condition of the nation’s highways.
The results of that report, by the requirements of Shuster’s proposal, would be submitted to Congress no later than January of 2021.
In a statement, Shuster said his plan at this point “does not represent a complete and final infrastructure bill.”
The plan instead, the Pennsylvania Congressman continud, is meant to “reignite discussions amongst my colleagues.”
Analysts say the outlook for any kind of comprehensive infrastructure legislation is doubtful before the November mid-term elections.
Legislation calling for an increase in the nation’s fuel taxes, which have been the same since 1993, have also previously met with resistance on Capitol Hill.
By Garry Boulard
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