Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) have filed a bill—the Transportation Empowerment Act—that would gradually eliminate the fuel tax to fund federal transportation projects.
The bill would decrease the gas tax from 18.4 cents per gallon to 3.7 cents in five years. It would also would transfer authority over federal highways and transit programs to states and replace current congressional appropriations with block grants.
The concept, called devolution, has been a popular option among conservatives that would like to see the development of road and transit infrastructure left up to states. Devolution is opposed by many in the transportation sector, including NATSO and the trucking industry.
In support of the measure, DeSantis said, “Giving states the flexibility to tackle their own infrastructure needs will lower costs while improving responsiveness to the problems unique to each community.”
In a statement, Lee said, “The Interstate Highway System was completed decades ago, drivers are buying less gas, and the federal government has wasted far too much money on non-highway projects. It is just an outdated system that is long overdue for reform.”
He added, “By cutting out the bureaucratic middle man in Washington, states will be able to keep more of their infrastructure dollars at home where they belong and they will be able to avoid the costly and often duplicative federal regulations that can bring any infrastructure project to a screeching halt.”
Lawmakers are working to increase transportation funding, which is estimated to be short by about $16 billion per year.
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