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News of the Day - 4/16/15

Bill Would Hike Gas Tax to Pay for Roads 

A bipartisan group of House members has filed legislation to hike the federal gas tax and index it to inflation to pay for a new transportation bill.

The measure would increase the gas tax, which has been 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993, to index it to inflation in January 2016 and set it to rise again in three years unless Congress comes up with a new way to pay for federal transportation projects.

The sponsors of the measure said Thursday that it would generate $27.5 billion that can be used to pay for nearly two years' worth of transportation projects and give lawmakers time to find a new infrastructure funding source to replace the gas tax.

We refuse to pass on the liability of our deteriorating roads and bridges to our children and grandchildren. The longer we wait to fix our crumbling infrastructure, the more it will cost in the long-run,” Reps. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), Reid Ribble (R-Wis.), and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) said in a joint statement about the bill, which has been dubbed the “Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act."

The federal government’s transportation funding measure is scheduled to expire on May 31. Lawmakers in both parties have expressed a desire to prevent an interruption in the road and transit funding, but they have been struggling to come up with a way to pay for an extension.

The gas tax has been traditional source of transportation funding since its inception in the 1930s. The tax has not been increased since 1993, however, and its buying power has been sapped by improvements in car fuel efficiency in recent years.

The federal government typically spends about $50 billion per year on transportation projects, but the gas tax only brings in $34 billion annually at its current rate.

The lawmakers who are sponsoring the proposal said their measure would give members more time to debate new transportation funding proposals that have been suggested, which include relying on taxes that would be collected by imposing new levies on corporate profits that are stored overseas.

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