USA Today: New tax hikes eyed for roads, transit
States are scrambling to find taxes to pay for highway repairs and their public transit systems, including payroll and sales taxes, and raising taxes paid by gasoline stations.
The proposals, being kicked around in at least 13 states as governors lay out their legislative agendas for the year, come as states find revenue from stagnant federal and state gasoline taxes isn’t keeping up with highways, bridges and urban transit systems that increasingly are falling into disrepair.
One should never expect to glean much policy insight from inauguration speeches, but President Obama indicated today that his administration will seek to take action on climate change and immigration as it moves into its second term. And as always, cities will be the proving grounds for how future policies affecting these issues play out.
During this morning’s inauguration ceremony, Obama touched upon several domestic topics — including investments into sustainable industries — that should have urbanists and urban dwellers perking up their ears.
Though light on specifics, the issues spotlighted today will likely set at least part of the executive agenda for the next four years.
Governing: What to Do About the Gas Tax?
Every tax has its problems, but the state gasoline tax seems more deeply flawed than most. That’s largely because the gas tax in most states isn’t indexed to the rising cost of fuel; rather, it sits fixed at a per gallon fee. Meanwhile, cars are becoming more efficient and using less gas. In short, the gas tax has been going broke.
This year, gasoline taxes are on a number of state legislative agendas. But raising the tax is taking a backseat to newer approaches. One would use vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) rather than gas consumed as the base for assessing road use. The other would get rid of the state gas tax altogether and replace it with an increase in the sales tax.
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett (R) has made it his mission to make his city healthier and less obese, in part by improving its walkability. The city lost a million pounds during his weight-loss campaign — and then they took a freeway out of the middle of downtown and overhauled its built environment.