Instead Of Raising Gas Taxes, Maybe This Is A Better Solution

There’s no need for fees on electric cars with this option.

Using corporate stock buybacks to fund the Federal Highway Trust Fund might be the answer.

Any planned phase-out of fossil fuel cars with electric cars will most likely need an overhaul that replaces the gas tax with a new funding source. Currently, America’s Highway Trust fund depends on collecting gas taxes at 18.4 cents a gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents a gallon for diesel.

The first federal gas tax started in 1932 to fund public works projects related to roads and it was one cent a gallon. The Federal Highway Trust fund was created in 1956 to fund the construction of the Interstate Highway system and it was three cents a gallon.

The Federal Gas Tax was last raised in 1993

The Federal Highway Trust Fund collected 41 billion dollars in gas tax money in 2018.

Meanwhile, the capacity of the Interstate Highway System, with the bulk of it built between the 1950’s and 1970’s, has not kept up with steady car population growth, causing massive traffic jams.

Amtrak’s passenger railroad network can barely get train speeds to surpass those from the 1920’s due to it sharing a lot of its tracks with freight railroads and the number of railroad crossings.

Another big source of tension for the federal Highway Trust Fund is that gasoline cars have to compete against non-automobile uses like public transportation and pedestrians for scarce highway funding from the trust fund fueled by gas taxes.

Fossil fuel lobbyists and anti-public transit opponents will often bring up the federal gas tax collecting funds for infrastructure while public transit siphons some funding away from car-specific programs to spend it on non-car uses.

The biggest argument against public transit and other non-automobile projects is the Highway Trust Fund is funded by drivers buying gas and driving on public highways that are mainly paid for by gasoline-powered car use. With gas-tax-based highway funds being so limited, the “don’t you dare spend one cent of my gas tax money on your blasted bike paths and subway train rides” mentally has set in.

Meanwhile, as the overall car population grows and the costs of construction projects rises, the existing gas tax can’t keep up with funding demands. The current quick-fix funding solution is to try to raise local gas taxes by a few cents and turn once-free roads and bridges into toll roads.

A long term proposal is to impose a Big Brother-style of GPS systems on everyone’s cars to keep track of where they drive and tax them for every mile. This, however, would invade people’s privacy.