Comments about ‘In our opinion: It's time to end the federal gas tax’

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Published: Saturday, Jan. 4 2014 12:00 a.m. MST

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Centerville, UT

Your editorials would have more credibility if they referenced sources from a broader spectrum. The Cato Institute may offer a valuable viewpoint, but it is one that should at least be balanced.

Bountiful, UT

"In addition federal involvement discourages 'innovations' such as toll roads".


I'm convinced, federal involvement in roads is a good thing. I would rather pay my tolls at the pump. In addition a toll road charges all cars the same. The gas tax discourages gas guzzlers. We are still having to go to war to assure the oil supply. Toll roads instead of a gas tax would only make this worse.

Salt Lake City, UT

Are the charities going to pick up the tab for road construction?

They are doing a bang up job ending violence and poverty.

Notice, Sarcasm.

Far East USA, SC

"Research has demonstrated that federal intervention increases both construction and administrative costs anywhere from 20 to 30 percent."

Everything always comes does to inefficient government. Why is it inefficient? Because our elected officials are paid to make it inefficient.

Large companies pay off our representatives in the form of campaign contributions and lobbying. These companies get what they pay for.

It is much more than just "bringing home the bacon". It is pure, unadulterated bribery.

And until we make a change and get the big corporate and union money out of politics, our tax dollars will be spent unwisely.

Unfortunately, 1/2 the electorate has been duped into supporting the big money in politics.

They not only support it, they defend it.

Unreconstructed Reb
Chantilly, VA

Rather than increase the fuel tax to cover a transportation funding shortfall, you'd repeal the tax entirely? The tax hasn't been raised in 20 years, hasn't kept pace with inflation, and hasn't been maintained existing infrastructure.

Yes, the highway system has been completed. And as anyone driving across the country in summer can attest, vast maintenance is required for upkeep. Maintenance requires funding.

Do you think that shifting maintenance burdens to the states will result in better maintenance? Citing a website named downsizinggovernment isn't convincing. Doesn't a Utah paper see that for federal highway funding, Utah is a taker, not a maker? My experiences with Utah's willingness to pay for infrastructure don't bode well for I-80 or I-15.

Federal government has historically invested heavily in transportation infrastructure, from the Erie Canal to railroads to roads to highways. This investment is credited by economists for much of our historical economic growth because it encourages movement of goods. Federal oversight of a comprehensive transportation system is preferable to a patchwork system of self-interested localities doing (or not doing) that heavy lifting.

liberal larry
salt lake City, utah

This editorial cites a study by the Koch brother funded Cato Institute. The Koch brothers are so anti government, and right wing biased, that their research has very little credibility.

Saint George, UT

Now you are talking, just 50 years late. But, it is a start. The way to solve most of this countries ills is to turn to God. The next best thing is to abide by the Constitution, which will end federal control over the disasters that are a part of unconstitutional involvement in everything from Social Security to Education to the income tax and every form of taxation that isn't Constitutional, including the federal gas tax.

Durham, NC

Lets look at this by the numbers, using data from the study the author reference. One of the proposed solutions is to dump gas tax in exchange for toll roads. The study sites the Dullas Greenway as an example of a privately funded project.

Per the report, the toll ranges from $2.25 to $4.15 to travel the 14 mile long road. Using the lowest number - that equates to 16.7 cents per mile ($2.25/14). If you look at how much the tax system charges to drive the same distance, assuming you are driving your dream monster truck and getting only 10 miles per gallon - you would need 1.4 gallons of gas to travel that same distance. Federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon. By the math you need 1.4 gallons of gas x the gas tax = 22.5 cents of tax to travel that same 14 mile distance - or - 1.6 cents per mile.

The author'a solution based on data from the referenced report is a move to a system that charges someone 10x as much to travel per mile as does the current system (16.7 cpm tolls vs 1.6 cpm tax)

Hayden, ID

Democrats never met a tax they don't love! Who was the last President to give everyone who actually pays taxes a tax cut and what did Democrats say about it? I rest my case.

La Verkin, UT

I agree that there is no logic in federal gas taxes, but we need to realize that Utah would have to hike it's gas tax significantly or find other funding to maintain and improve "federal" highways/freeways in Utah. This move would not reduce the burden on Utah or it's citizens but rather likely increase it. The principle is still correct - the federal government should not collect taxes for or have jurisdiction over roads in Utah.

Durham, NC

Just wanted to add that I am not against toll roads. In fact, I have an E-ZPass transponder in all of my cars. But lets not be foolish enough to believe this is and either or solution. Our national competitiveness and security depends on a well functioning national transportation plan. But that doesn't exclude other options.

But one I do not accept is one the CATO institute sites as a possible solution - one where GPS data is collected from our cars and we are charged by where we have driven - with the promise that personal information about when, where, and how often we drive is not gathered. As we have seen from both Private (Google\Facebook) and Public (NSA) scandals about the collection of private data, I do not want my every movement being gathered by some entity. I am surprised CATO would be foolish enough to suggest that as a solution.

But the all or nothing proposal by the author financially a no-go.

Say No to BO
Mapleton, UT

Illinois has the highest gas taxes in the country...and terrible roads.
TARP brought new money (TIGER) to fix roads. Shovel-ready and all that hype.
Road-building in most areas is done with political clout using inflated wage scales under the guise of prevailing wage laws. Translation: Union jobs for union votes.
Governor Blagojevich is in jail because he hit up the cement contractors for campaign cash in exchange for another lane of the tollway.
No, motor fuel taxes have NOT served the interest of the people. The concept isn't bad; drivers paying for the roads they use. The problem is government corruption at all levels. We don't trust politicians and the problem is getting worse.

Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

I agree with micawber. The CATO institute is a radical libertarian think tank that is opposed to virtually all government programs, hardly an objective source.

That being said, I have no problem with ending the gas tax as long as we end all federal financing of road construction. It will be the poor states who suffer from this, and most of them are deeply conservative states. Making them pay for all of their own roads might make them reassess their opposition to federal spending.

Bountiful, UT

Unstated is the assumption that the State of Utah would expand their gas tax to make up the difference. Tax money would merely be shifted from federal to state.

Given that the states on their own would have never been able come up with an Interstate highway system - too much bickering and difference of opinion on how to do things, what standards to use, etc - I think it's erroneous to assume complete state ownership of transportation regulation is a good thing. Imagine the states replacing the FAA and our air traffic system... not a great idea.

I simply don't trust the State of Utah to have complete control over our roads. Our Legislators have proven over & over that they're too easily swayed by local economic interests and aren't really up to making great decisions, themselves. (The $13 million contract mistake that has never fully be explained, unlimited campaign donations to Shurtleff, Swallow, et al, the lack of backbone in regulating Energy Solutions, etc)

Once the State is addicted to even more money, do you think they'll do anything to jeopardize this revenue source, like reduce air pollution?

This sounds like an ALEC idea.

Salt Lake City, UT

Interesting that this editorial references "research" showing that federal intervention increases costs without citing the source for this.

It's from the Cato Institute, which in addition to being ultra-conservative in its politics is also founded and funded by the US oil industry.

Sorry - you folks are going to have to do a lot better than that if you're going to try to persuade us that eliminating federal fuel taxes, which are essential to our national infrastructure, is a good idea.

Malad, ID

With our dirty air in the slc valley the federal gas tax should be raised not by 15 cents but by a 1.00. Let CNG have no tax thus encouraging motorists to switch to cng to clean up our air.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

I think this article is promoting a scam to further squeeze the wealth from ordinary people taxpayers. There are probably few people in this nation that believe the state and local interests would build better roads than the Federal government.

My real fear is that the really smart business people are working on an agenda to end the American experiment and grab the money and run.

Saint George, UT

It is good to see people from both sides of the aisle agree that the biggest problem is corruption from government to corporate to almost in every case, political corruption. That being the case, everyone should be able to also agree that more money in the government coffers in any form isn't the answer. Unfortunately, most, if not all, on the left will close their eyes and somehow, I don't know how, continue to stick their head in the sand and think that it will be different once we just give the government more money.-one more time. Amazing!

Park City, Ut

This will be a moot issue in the not so distant future, and government agencies that benefit from gas taxes are already scrambling due to the shortfalls they have been steadily seeing every year as more and more hybrids and plug-in cars are put on the road. And before we start smiling and think "oh that's a good thing" just remember that the road funds are used to maintain existing roads. So unless we want to revert to the pre-1930's when we were driving on mostly dirt roads, we had better figure out a way to continue paying for the upkeep. My guess is that we will have more toll roads, and we will be paying way more to register our vehicles. We'll miss the good o'l days of a gas tax because any newer system will likely not be as fair as what we have now.

Res Novae
Ashburn, VA


You point out the Dulles Greenway as an example in the article cited by this op-ed. As one who lives along the Greenway, I'd like to add some more info.

The Greenway opened in 1995, charging $1. That rate is now over $5 during peak hours, an increase of over 500% in less than 20 years. That makes me dismissive of the editorial's complaints of a 45% increase in a gas tax that has not been adjusted during the same timeframe.

When the Greenway last increased its rates, there was anger that its ownership violated its agreement with the state to ensure that toll increases are reasonable. That outcry fizzled, allegedly when some money was passed under the table to key state politicians. Greenway use took a dip as many decided it's no longer economically justifiable for them to use.

But it survives because of the condition of alternative state and county roads, some of the worst congestion nationwide. My county is among the fastest growing in the country, the county loves building/taxing new residences, and hates spending money for infrastructure improvements to accommodate so many people.

No, I trust neither private tolls nor local government to do right.

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