January 18, 2018

NPR’s All Things Considered: More States Turning To Toll Roads To Raise Cash For Infrastructure

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“I think the states over time have lost hope in the federal government enacting a real, long-term infrastructure package” says Carl Davis, research director for the non-partisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. “And so they’ve taken matters in their own hands and boosted funding on their own.”

Davis notes that 26 states have increased their gas taxes since 2013, eight of them just last year.

“It’s very unusual to see the states in such lock-step on this issue, especially when it comes to tax increases,” he says, adding that it just underscores how the lack of federal infrastructure funding has hurt states.

The Trump administration is preparing to announce a new national infrastructure plan in the coming weeks that the president has promised would invest a trillion dollars in the nation’s crumbling roads, rails, bridges, airports, tunnels, dams, levees and water systems. But only $200 billion of that will likely be coming from the federal treasury. The administration is planning to use that money to match and leverage the rest from state and local governments and the private sector.

ITEP’s Davis says it’ll be tough for many states to come up with their share.

“With so many states already having dug deep to come up with more money for infrastructure, they’re really going to have to start scrounging through the couch cushions, looking for whatever they can, if they want to participate in a new federal program of the type that’s being talked about.”

That could mean more gas tax increases, if states feel there’s room, but it also likely means a heavier reliance on tolls. Read more