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Agency urges increase in federal gas tax


WEIGHING THE ISSUE: The AMATS Policy Committee weighed the pros and cons of endorsing Resolution 2015-05R before its adoption by the committee members.

The AMATS Policy Committee supports a 10 cent increase in the federal gas tax as a way to shore up the national Highway Trust Fund.  The fund, which supports needed road construction and mass transit projects, will go insolvent if Congress fails to approve a new transportation spending bill by May 30.

The Policy Committee approved the resolution stating its support for the increase in a 14-4 vote with one abstention during its March 26 meeting.  The committee approved a similar resolution several years ago, but the body’s latest statement contains more pointed language in its urging of national leaders to index the tax to inflation and to pursue a new planning framework to meet infrastructure needs, according to AMATS Director Jason Segedy.

“While our region could always use more federal and state funding, what we need even more is a new federal and statewide vision for transportation – one that prioritizes fixing the roads and bridges that we already have and creating viable alternatives to driving,” Segedy explains.

He adds that AMATS has pursued a “fix-it-first” approach to the Greater Akron area’s transportation system for the last several years with great success.  While the resolution urges federal leaders to index a tax increase to inflation – the gas tax hasn’t been raised since 1993 – Segedy notes that not all of the nation’s transportation funding problems are due to the diminished buying power of federal dollars.

“Our current fiscal difficulties are not just a matter of federal or statewide gas taxes failing to keep up with inflation or per-capita vehicle miles traveled declining.  They are directly related to how federal and state transportation dollars are being spent,” he continues, “Too much is being spent to expand our highway system and not enough is being spent to maintain the roads and bridges that we already have.”

Segedy observes that the continued focus on building more, wider, and more expensive roads that state and local governments will be responsible for maintaining in perpetuity is a large part of the reason why the Highway Trust Fund is insolvent.  It is also one of the reasons why the Ohio Department of Transportation has had to resort to non-traditional funding mechanisms, he adds.

Resolution 2015-05R is available for viewing by clicking here.