Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Eliminating the federal gas tax?

My first reaction to this idea was "what a horrible idea", mostly because I am immediately suspicious of plans to eliminate taxes. Obviously it depends on the replacement plan, but there are definitely enough problems with the gas tax as-is:
The gas tax doesn’t rise with inflation and gets weaker every year...

The gas tax is charged as cents-per-gallon instead of cents-per-dollar, so the same size tank always reaps the same amount of money in taxes, no matter how much the price of gas goes up.

In addition, as people get more fuel-efficient cars, they use less gas, and so pay less gas tax.
The article is about the federal gas tax, but the criticisms above apply equally to the state gas tax. I would add that the state gas tax does not pay for transit, only roads (the federal gas tax spends about 15% of the gas tax on transit). This is one reason the Metro Chamber has been so vocal about a local option tax that could be spent on transit as well as roads.

The ARC is "studying" this, and looking for a more "sustainable" funding mechanism. I would certainly be open to alternatives, especially if it meant that MARTA started seeing some state gas tax dollars. I know this article is about the federal tax, but a change in federal policy presents a natural opening for a change in state policy. Not that it'd ever happen, thanks to the DOT and rural legislators missing the bigger picture while they try to protect their fiefdoms.

BTW, how long until the word "sustainable" has no meaning whatsoever? Are we already there?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.