American Trucking Associations has reconsidered its policy on highway funding and added seven alternatives to its bedrock commitment to the federal fuel tax.
The association has long held that increasing the tax and indexing it to inflation is the quickest, fairest and most efficient way to raise the money needed for infrastructure upkeep.
The Highway Trust Fund, the principal source of money for the federal highway program, is on track to run into the red by late August. This is forcing state transportation departments to suspend future projects, which in turn is raising the pressure on Congress to do something about funding.
Recognizing that Congress may not have the political will to raise the fuel tax, ATA has come up with list of alternatives that it will accept.
“Several months ago, ATA’s leaders convened a task force with the purpose of evaluating alternatives in addition to the federal fuel tax for financing the nation’s roads and bridges,” said ATA Chairman Phil Byrd, president and CEO of Bulldog Hiway Express, in a statement.
The group narrowed a list of more than 30 funding options down to these:
- Index the fuel tax based on price, the Consumer Price Index or the estimated impact of improved fuel efficiency.
- Use the proceeds from repatriation of overseas capital. The Obama administration and Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., both have proposed variations on that theme, as has Rep. John Delaney, D-Md.
- Issue Treasury bonds subsidized with revenue from indexing the fuel tax.
- Impose an annual highway access fee for all motorists.
- Use royalties from new oil and gas leases.
- Impose a per-barrel tax on imported oil and domestic crude production.
- As a last resort, a short-term transfer from the General Fund to the Highway Trust Fund.