I did a little calculation last year. My wife and I put 25000 miles per year on
our two vehicles averaging about 30 miles per gallon, which means that we use
833 gallons of gas per year. With Maryland's combined federal and state
taxes adding up to $0.42 per gallon we pay $350 per year in gas tax. Is that a
lot? We pay 8 times that just for our auto insurance! We pay 8 times that just
for our gas! Surely that is a small price to pay for the ability to drive on
decent roads from one end of the country to the other without having to pay a
toll.Are we upset because it is called a tax? Well, call it a
user-fee because that is what it is, really. Are we upset because some of it is
used to fund mass transit? Well, it is still a small price for helping to
relieve congestion in places like Washington DC.
So you want the local politicians to take over road maintenance projects. Wooo hooo More work for the mayor's cousin Clem. You know he
needs it since he got out of jail.
Turning to tolls as the answer to our transportation funding issues is a very
bad idea. Tolling roads, especially interstates, is an inefficient way to try
and find more money for roads. Tolls cost alot to operate and maintain and
force people to find alternative routes to avoid paying them. There are alot of
solutions that should be considered and many are rightly described as
innovative. But tolling is not one of those solutions. If anyone
wants to learn more about this issue they should visit
www.tollfreeinterstates.com. This site shows the true consequences of turning
to tolling existing interstates as a way to pay for roads.
bandersenSaint George, UTI have the best idea and anyone who
disagrees doesn't want to deal with specifics. My idea is to limit federal
spending to 15 percent . That gives the the federal government 5 percent more
than I give to The Lord,3:25 p.m. Jan. 4, 2014==========
News Flash b, Mitt Romney paid less than 1/2 the rate you
propose.So, you are asking for a 100%+ doubling tax increase on the
those making over $250K.while Obama asked for only 3-5%The
people most opposed to a flat tax are the uber-wealthy, NOT the poor and middle
class!That's what the 99% are asking for, equality.Not a
bandersen said: "Where did I say I gave 10 percent to a church?"-um right above seriously, are you unaware that we read what you post?Here's what you said..."My idea is to limit federal spending to
15 percent . That gives the the federal government 5 percent more than "I
give to The Lord, which by the way is close to 10 percent" more than Biden
or Obama give to him"Toll roads yeah! Another "privatize the
profits socialize the costs" conservative dream, cause they would only use
those tolls to maintain the roads nicely, not line the pockets of the local
Ultra BobCottonwood Heights, UTI 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.9:21 a.m. Jan. 4,
2014======= Agreed -- Businesses are always
looking for NEW business, and then stiffle all other compititon.Look
what lucritive endevors they are pursing now -- They first drill it into
everyone's head tha Government can NEVER do anything right.Then point
out that private industry can do everything cheaper and better.Then
they swoop in and;Privatize Schools, Privatize Fire Departments, Privatize Security and Police Forces...Now it's Privatize
roads and all vital infrustructure...Last call will be Privatize of our
Military, and with they money, they can rule to the ends of the
earth, and there will be none to make afraid.
"just remember: Less taxes = more prosperity, plain and simple."Well, that sure isn't true. Plain and simple. But it's odd
that so many people believe such things. Let's do a thought
experiment to understand why this claim is false. Imagine our society with zero
taxes. The claim is less taxes equals more prosperity, there are no qualifiers,
so it stands to reason, using this claim, that no taxes at all would lead to
amazing prosperity. So what happens when we have no taxes? First
off, no official government at any level, right? Now obviously some people are
saying, wouldn't that be great! Well, would it? There would be
no police forces. After all, cops aren't going to volunteer. And no
judicial system, no judges, no courts, no bailiffs. There would be no zoning
regulations, no modern road system. How do you think businesses will
do in this sort of world? And then there would be no military. I
guarantee that the societies that weren't silly enough to defund their
militaries because they thought fewer taxes = greater prosperity would own
America right now.
Regarding bad air, isn't it refreshing to have someone from Idaho tell us
what we ought to do in SLC? (Maybe I ought to tell Idaho about their roads,
right?)With regards to using the money for roads and road
maintenance, how many of you are aware of the numerous times the US Congress has
raided Social Security funds? I have worked for 5 local governments and three
state governments and I can tell you that if there is a fund that shows a
positive balance the politicians will use it for something else--guaranteed!With respect to using CNG cars, why can't they be the standard
version that is manufactured and charge more for a gasoline engine? That would
produce immediate results in less pollution and we have trillions of cubic feet
of natural gas available. If CNG were $1 a gallon then maybe we could afford
$.75 a gallon taxes, or even a $1. But greed would enter into it and the CNG
would be priced at $4 a gallon because it would be the latest
"trend."Those who hate driving may take a horse or walk or
ride a bike and just remember: Less taxes = more prosperity, plain and simple!
The notion that government closer to home is better is a lie.
AsnowmanAs to the "tax reduction" by POTUS, he raided the
Social Security fund for this break by reducing "contributions" but he
did not reduce pay out so the crisis can that was kicked down the road comes a
little closer to the proverbial cliff.As for my two-bits, I think
increase in gas tax, with an annual federal tax on electric cars for the highway
fund and eliminate contributions to mass transit and other projects. The roads
need to be maintained. Electric cars reduce hydrocarbon emission from cars, but
they still add to wear and tear on the highways. They also increase emissions
from the coal powered electrical plants that charge them at night. But that is
a topic for another day.
I'll tell you what's really stupid: The feds charge a half cent
increment and the State charges 4 tenths percent so that's how they came up
with .9 cents on the end of every gallon. It sounds cheaper that way.The reason it's more expensive to build roads is the endless paperwork
the feds require. I've worked for local, county, state and federal
projects in more than one state. It's absolutely mind boggling and they
NEVER ask about the effect of any of their regulations, and you're obliged
to comply.Where I live they asked individuals to conserve water so
did. They sold less water so they had to raise the prices. When we have a
normal water year did the price go back down? Dream on!! Next
puzzler: Recycling. They forced everyone that didn't want to enrich the
firms collecting garbage to have to "opt out" of the recycling pick-up
and fee instead of those wanting it to "opt in." (Backwards, for fear of
not getting enough customers.)Get Uncle Sam as far away from
assessing and collecting taxes as possible, including Obama Care, which is the
latest tax foisted upon Americans.
Shaun: Where did I say I gave 10 percent to a church?10cc and the
rest: Just as I thought! 15 percent wasn't good enough! Neither would 20
or 30 or whatever! it is all about big brother having all the answers. My idea
is too honest, straight forward and uncomplicated for the Socialists.
Transparency is not what a socialist and the corruptible want. When things are
complicated, the poor, the ignorant, and the naive can be taken advantage of.
The Constitution is relatively easy to understand. it doesn't take a law
degree to understand, but the corrupted, the judges, and the academics have
convinced many otherwise. it doesn't take a genius to figure out what it
really means, including the most recent grab for federal power by a judge over
ruling the will of the people in Utah. You know, however. My idea will catch
on to those who like simplicity and to think that you could have shut me and a
host of other conservatives up forever! Just think of it! you could throw all
15 percent of whatever program you wanted without nary a word from me! You
can't get a better deal! Wake up America!
My state has a law on the books that if the federal government lowers their
federal gas tax, that the state gasoline tax automatically increases by exactly
the same amount per gallon. Thus if your suggestion were to be implemented, at
least in this state, we would have the same amount of funding available for
transportation projects, and decision-making could be done at a level closer to
where the funds are collected. Thus it is a good plan, especially for "donor
states" such as mine.
WOW! I thought the DN belonged to the lds church, not the Kochs or Rand Paul!Obviously, the Interstate Highway System is of national importance, so
at the very least, making sure its repair and updating is constantly funded is
of vital interest.Example of stupidity caused by "leaving it to
the States"--- The Interstate Bridge on US Highway 5 runs from
Portland, OR to Vancouver, WA. This is the main route North/South through CA,
OR, and WA, to Canada and to Mexico.The bridge consists of 2
matching drawbridges, about a mile long. One of the bridges is about 100
years old, the other about 55 years old.They could easily go down in an
Earthquake, and should be replaced by a modern bridge that is taller, to avoid
the ridiculousness of drawbridge on an Interstate Highway.Washington
State decided not to fund its part of the cost of the replacement bridge,
nullifying Oregon and the Federal Government's urgency to make sure
commerce is safeguarded...... And I thought the editorial
encouraging the Amendment 3 court fight was nutty!This one comes from way
off in the fringe, where the right-wing billionaires dwell.
The federal gas tax is a use tax and it makes sense: those that use the roads,
pay the taxes. It should be used exclusively for transportation (building new
highways and maintaining the ones we have). I remember how it was traveling long
distances before the interstate so I don't resent the gas tax. If the gas
tax money went into health care or defense or farm subsidies, then I would
banderson:We have an excellent example right next to us of probably
the optimal amount of taxes: Canada.The Canadians have far less
economic inequality than we do, they rode through the financial crisis with
minimal problems - because they believe in solid regulation of financial
markets, not the "casino" approach formerly advocated by Alan Greenspan
and others who used to think markets would somehow regulate themselves.Canada surpassed the US on the Index of Economic Freedom annually released by
the conservative Heritage Foundation - it's easier to become a millionaire
in Canada now than it is in the US.Average total taxation in Canada:
38% Average total taxation in the US: 28%Moral of the story: we may
have actually dipped *below* the optimal taxation rate, when a wide variety of
measures are considered. I know this will be met by howls of protest by those
on the right, but the numbers speak for themselves. The extreme example of low
taxes and no government regulation is Somalia, which I'm pretty sure nobody
uses as an example of freedom.
@bandersen. Giving money to a church that doesn't provide any services is
really different from paying taxes to a government entity that provides services
and has to pay for those services instead of relying on volunteers like churches
"This “temporary” federal gasoline tax has lingered eight
decades after its expiration date"You realize that Income Tax
was also a temporary measure? The arguments against it do not carry a lot of
weight as, besides funding highways, higher gasoline taxes should also increase
the public's desire to car pool and purchase vehicles that have better gas
mileage. Growing up on a ranch I realized that the pickup truck was seldom
needed as we drove all over. It would be nice if ranchers, farmers, construction
workers, tough guys, etc. realized that they don't often need to drive gas
guzzling trucks!There is always the argument that local oversight is
better and more efficient, but local oversight is also full of graft and
cronyism where the same local mistakes keep getting repeated Some Federal
oversight is necessary to have nationwide road standards of construction and
maintenance.I believe there needs to be a balance of local oversight
and Federal oversight. Too much of either one is not good!
In response to Mountanman, who asks "Who was the last President to give
everyone who actually pays taxes a tax cut and what did Democrats say about
it?"That would be President Obama, who cut payroll taxes by 2
percentage points in 2011 and 2012, thus giving every who actually earns income
an immediate increase in take home pay.Oh, and why did it expire in
only two years? check with the Republicans who fought to prevent it's
extension.Thanks for asking!
WestGranger: "So you want us to only pay attention to studies from the
myriad of liberal groups out there?"banderson:
"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..."No, those questioning this opinion piece have legitimate
concerns about the call to end the federal gas tax.First, the report
from the Cato should be balanced by studies from other places across the
political spectrum. Bias is inherent in any report from groups like this.
Reading and looking for multiple ideas, helps us find facts, throw out false
claims, and find the best alternatives- its called critical thinking.
Questioning an issue from different points of view is not sticking your head in
the sand.Second, I'm all for reducing or ending a tax, but
what's the alternative? Shift that same amount to the state? Turn
everything into a toll road? Tax individual cars based on actual mileage? You
can't just turn off the funding and hope for the best. Roads still need to
be funded somehow- that is an economic reality. Let the roads crumble, so will
I have the best idea and anyone who disagrees doesn't want to deal with
specifics. My idea is to limit federal spending to 15 percent . That gives the
the federal government 5 percent more than I give to The Lord, which by the way
is close to 10 percent more than Biden or Obama give to him, and then let them
actually work back there in Washington to figure out how to make ends meet. how
about that! all you liberals will never here another word out of me criticizing
any one-ever! you can go dump my 15 percent in the ocean and I still won't
say a word! Isn't that worth it! I will bet you I could find a whole host
of conservatives that will commit to letting you liberals do anything you want
with the money. just don't come back for more-ever! deal?
from banderson:"The way to solve most of this countries ills is
to turn to God."Uh, huh. This was an article on the federal gas
tax. So are you proposing that if we end the federal gas tax that we should
expect the shortfall in funding to come from God?
All I can think of is Bush;s tax cuts that is expiring, which actually means,
all the tax increases that he didn't put into effect.
"Federal gasoline taxes have been used to fund a variety of projects other
than building and maintaining highways, which was the stated purpose for which
they were implemented." 81% of Federal gas tax revenues go to the
maintenance of highways and bridges. The remainder goes to mass transit. The
problem with shifting the whole thing back to a state like Utah is that Utah is
basically a big family business, with you-scratch-my-back, I'll-scratch
yours. We saw that with the I-15 rebuild in Utah County. There is in fact less
corruption at the Federal level than here in Utah. There is more objectivity at
the Federal level. We have yet to see that the AG's office can function as
an effective cop over the process.
Let the states handle it? Okay, who supports increasing the state gas tax to pay
for it? Anyone?
People who actually understands the economy, like Greg Mankiw (well-know Harvard
economist, Romney's main economics adviser) say we need to be increasing
the gas tax by at least a dollar per gallon.Ignoring that advice and
concentrating on a few economically ignorant extremists' claim that we
should abolish the federal gas tax is ridiculous.I'm in favor
of more local control but it is not realistic to think that in the current
political climate the states will make the hard decisions regarding fuel taxes
that we need to make.
I'm amazed at how many people refuse to listen to an idea just because it
is from the Cato institute. It is a lot easier to dismiss arguments out of hand
that way, than to actually engage them. Everything the fed govt does, and to a
lesser extent, the state or local govts, is subject to fraud, abuse and waste.
How many govt projects do NOT have cost overruns? Maybe a few. But learn from
history, folks! The gas tax would be a good idea if the tax actually went, 100%,
to highway construction/repair, and at normal wages. We don't need to raise
the gas tax, we need to spend it right.
Interesting article, especially since Utah has spent over a billion federal
dollars on UTA construction projects plus continuing federal subsidy for UTA
operations. Now we got our federal money to heck with anyone else.
@Liberal Larry So you want us to only pay attention to studies from the myriad
of liberal groups out there? Studies from groups that don't go along with
your view of the world are dismissed off hand? Are groups accepted by liberals
the only ones who can do valid research? Isn't that a narrow point of view?
I enjoy having my view of the world challenged and not simply confirmed.
@UtahBlueDevil,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
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
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
"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
Are the charities going to pick up the tab for road construction?
They are doing a bang up job ending violence and poverty. Notice,
"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.
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.