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Agency backs federal gas tax increase

Baker

“Insolvency is a real threat in light of the fact that the fund is grappling with current and projected outlays of about $55 billion a year over the next two years.”

– AMATS Director Curtis Baker

For the third time since 2010, the AMATS Policy Committee has approved a resolution urging an increase in the federal gas tax as a way to bolster the national Highway Trust Fund.  The committee approved Resolution 2018-07 stating its support for a 15 cent increase in the gas tax indexed to inflation so that revenue generated for the fund can keep pace with rising costs.

The current tax of 18.4 cents per gallon generates about $35 billion for various road construction and other surface transportation projects across the nation.  Another $5 billion raised from the tax supports public transportation.  The tax hasn’t been increased since 1993 while construction and other costs have increased unabated.  The Highway Trust Fund is projected to become insolvent by 2021, unless a new source of funding is found.

“Insolvency is a real threat in light of the fact that the fund is grappling with current and projected outlays of about $55 billion a year over the next two years,” AMATS Director Curtis Baker continues, “If something isn’t done, we, as a nation, will have to reduce spending drastically or continue to borrow to maintain what we have.”

Baker notes that, in its role as the Greater Akron area’s metropolitan planning organization, AMATS received more than $90 million in federal funding requests from the region’s communities during its latest round of project applications.  “Of that amount, we awarded only about $33 million.  For a long-term perspective, our region is expected to need about $4.4 billion just to maintain our current highway system through 2040.  Clearly, we have a need for additional funds,” Baker observes.

Resolution 2018-07 will be relayed to Ohio’s Congressional delegation for consideration.  Agency officials believe that the resolution is timely given the current infrastructure negotiations between Congress and the Trump administration.  Baker notes that the resolution also urges state lawmakers in Columbus to consider raising additional revenue for roadway infrastructure.

“States, counties and local communities are gradually assuming more of the funding burden that was carried by the federal government.  Locally, we see cities like Barberton and Ravenna approving tax increases to fund infrastructure improvements.  Summit County will increase motor vehicle license fees next year to pay for bridge and road improvements.  This trend may continue and accelerate if needs aren’t met,” Baker observes.

Resolution 2018-07 is available for viewing by clicking here.