Opinion: Fed Gas Tax Lived Too Long

Author favors repeal of federal gasoline tax in favor of local, congestion-based toll systems that keep money in urban areas where need is the greatest

Published: 26-Jan-2004

N class=bodytext>Last year state Senate President John Andrews passed a resolution that carried 97 to 3. No, it wasn't to force kids to recite the Pledge of Allegiance while they nail the Ten Commandments to school doors. It was to turn back the federal gas tax.

When you buy gas here in Colorado, where does your federal tax, which now gobbles up 18.3 cents per every gallon, go? Well, a whole lot of places outside of Colorado. And those dollars that find their way back home don't have the buying power they did when they left.

First, a quick word on gas taxes in general. It's a stupid way to pay for roads, and it will always guarantee funding shortfalls. As cars get better gas mileage, they go farther on a tank of gas. The demand for roads increases, but government gets less in revenue. And as fuel-efficient hybrid-electric, and maybe (big maybe) hydrogen cars become the norm, roads will be squeezed with even less funding coming in.

Raising gas taxes is only a Band-Aid fix. The real answer is to stop taxing gas and move to a system of tolls, collected electronically, that vary by the amount of traffic congestion. High Occupancy Toll lanes, which allow single occupants to drive in a carpool lanes for a varying toll, are the first step in this shift.

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