Return Highway Money to the States

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he Highway Trust Fund, into which gas tax revenue is placed, is a politician’s dream.

Not only is raising the gas tax misguided, but we should not even have a federal gas tax to begin with because it finances a program that is inherently broken.

The Highway Trust Fund — into which gas tax revenue is placed — is a politician’s dream because it transfers power to Washington and away from states, where the real decisions are made.

OUR VIEW: A pain-free way to fix roads and bridges

Why send tax dollars to Washington only to see a portion of that money sent directly back to the states after federal bureaucrats chew up a sizable chunk of it? Why not just keep it with the states in the first place and keep the money away from greedy overspending politicians in Congress?

All 50 states have Departments of Transportation. More than 70% of all transportation spending in this country is already financed and spent at the state and local level. Each state has very specific infrastructure needs, and those needs are most effectively addressed at the local level, where those making the decisions are held most accountable by the taxpayers.

The federal gas tax is just another layer of taxation that finances another layer of unnecessary bureaucracy. When the money is sent to Washington, the politicians spend it and then borrow even more.

The result of this flawed system has been repeated taxpayer bailouts to the tune of tens of billions of dollars. And some of the actual expenditures, such as bike paths and "highway beautification," are of a dubious value.

A far better solution, offered by Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., along with Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., would be to pass a bill called the Transportation Empowerment Act. This bill would devolve the gas tax to the states, allowing each state to fund its own projects, rather than sending the money to Washington to send less back down again with strings attached. This would mean more accountability for gas tax revenue, and more local control for the taxpayers.

The Highway Trust Fund is an outdated funding scheme for America’s infrastructure needs. Raising the gas tax simply perpetuates it.

Chris Chocola, a former Congressman from Indiana, is the President of the Club for Growth