The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, along with the Highway Revenue Act (1956) created the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) as a mechanism through which federal gasoline taxes would be used to fund the construction and maintenance of the U.S. highway system. Both the taxes themselves and the authority to place these funds into the HTF expire and must be extended periodically. In 1993, the last increase brought the federal gas tax to 18.4 cents per gallon, 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel. Many point to inflation and increased fuel efficiency as causes of significant shortfalls in the HTF and claim that falling gas prices and the condition of roads in the U.S. make this year an opportune time to increase these taxes.
The latest authorization for the HTF will expire in May and raising the gas tax appears to be generating some support from both Republicans and Democrats . In June 2014, Senators Bob Corker and Chris Murphy introduced revenue neutral legislation to raise both the gasoline and diesel taxes 6 cents per gallon for two years, tying future increases to inflation. Some have suggested instead that raising the gas tax could undermine the economic benefit of low gas prices. Still others have argued we should abolish the federal gas tax altogether, allowing states to handle gas taxes directly and more efficiently fund their own projects.
Should we raise the federal gasoline tax? If so, by how much?