TOUGH TEST FOR GAS TAX
September 6, 2007
U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters voiced strong objections to raising the federal gas tax to fix bridges, saying that spending on roads and bridges is now determined by "political compromise" and that more money than ever is being designated through legislative "earmarks," says the Oklahoman.
Rep. Mary Fallin (R-Oklahoma City) and others agreed, arguing for an assessment of how transportation money is spent before taxes are raised. According to Fallin:
- Oklahoma voters two years ago soundly rejected a ballot initiative to raise the state gas tax to fund road improvements.
- And "donor" states like Oklahoma, which have historically paid more in gas taxes than they receive for road projects, are skeptical about paying even more.
- Fallin also noted, however, that Oklahoma has the highest percentage of structurally deficient bridges, and that the state Legislature recently committed more money.
Peters said she didn't disagree with the need to set priorities for bridge repair. The disagreement was over funding. "Increasing federal taxes and spending would do little, if anything, to address either the quality or performance of our roads," she said.
Source: Chris Casteel, "Tough test for gas tax," Oklahoman, September 6, 2007.
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