House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) reiterated his opposition to raising the motor fuels tax to fund a long-term infrastructure program during a committee hearing in which industry groups urged Congress to quickly find a sustainable funding source for the Highway Trust Fund.
“I want to make very clear: I’m against raising the gas tax,” Rep. Ryan said in his opening remarks. “There’s not much happening in this economy to help it grow, but lower gas prices is one of them. … So we are not raising gas taxes – plain and simple.”
Rep. Ryan’s remarks kicked off a hearing in which American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves urged elected officials to consider increasing and indexing the fuel tax to generate revenues for road construction and maintenance. Graves also advocated for royalties from oil and gas leases and a barrel tax on imported petroleum and domestic crude oil production as revenue generators.
Graves urged Congress to reject tolling as a means of raising funds for the Highway Trust Fund as well as to avoid increases to such user fees as the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax, federal excise tax, and tire tax.
“Tolls are an act of desperation, a symptom of the failure by elected officials to provide necessary funding for highways from more efficient sources,” Graves said in his statement.
By September, the Department of Transportation will be forced to begin delaying payments to states as the balance of the Highway Trust Fund dwindles, Chad Shirley, a Deputy Assistant Director at the Congressional Budget Office, testified.
Shirley testified that the highway account balance would fall to about $2 billion by the end of the fiscal year.
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