Keep our transportation system moving
Our country’s transportation system faces a financial crisis, with its main source of money, the Highway Trust Fund, barely staying solvent.
Read on to learn how our current funding system is designed and why it needs fixing.
WHAT IS THE HIGHWAY TRUST FUND?
it’s pretty straightforward
The Highway Trust Fund is a supply of money that pays for the country’s Interstate highways and other roads, bridges, and public transit systems – the heart of our surface transportation system.
By keeping our transportation infrastructure modern and efficient, the Highway Trust Fund helps improve national mobility and grow our economy.
Where does this money come from?
Drivers pay a federal gas tax that acts as a user fee, which helps pay for road upkeep.
Who decides where the money goes?
While the tax is collected by the federal government, all gas tax payments are allocated to individual states that hold the power to decide how the money is spent.
Impact on you
WHAT DOES THE HIGHWAY TRUST FUND PAY FOR?
Interstate highway construction and maintenance
Safety improvements like stronger guardrails and better lighting
Building and maintaining bridges and roads
Safety research and program development
Advanced technologies to reduce congestion
The Highway Trust Fund is projected to go bankrupt by May 2015.
A Little History
How Did We Arrive at Today's Current Situation?
The federal government imposes a one-cent excise tax per gallon of gasoline to help reduce the deficit.
The Federal-Aid Highway Act is implemented to fund construction of the Interstate System and permit long-term spending. This law creates the Highway Trust Fund and the fuel tax is set at three cents.
The federal government increases the tax by one-cent per gallon. (four cents)
The tax is increased by five cents per gallon. (nine cents)
The tax is increased by five cents per gallon. (14 cents)
The tax is increased by 4.4 cents per gallon. (18.4 cents)
Federal Gas Tax Per Gallon$ . 0 1
Our Current Problem
So What's been happening since 1993?
Costs have continued increasing and Congress has done nothing
The Gas tax has lost almost 40 percent of its purchasing power
Still set at 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline, the fuel tax has a drastically lower purchasing power than it did in 1993.
What are the implications?
Since 2008, the federal government has regularly scrambled to provide the Highway Trust Fund with enough money to get by in the short-term without coming up with a long-term solution to fix a perpetually draining fund.
If Congress hasn’t acted to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent in the long-term, then how have taxpayers funded needed transportation maintenance and improvement?
The Short-Term Solution:Borrowing Government Money
TIMELINE: A TOTAL OF $64.1 BILLION OF BORROWED MONEY
Law: To Amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to Restore the Highway Trust Fund Balance
Law: To restore sums to the Highway Trust Fund
Law: Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act
Law: Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act
Law: Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act - MAP-21 Extend
The latest short-term funding expires in May 2015.
How did we get here?
Why has the highway trust fund eroded?
Congress didn’t peg the fuel tax to inflation
Vehicles are more fuel-efficient
Increasing need for road repair
Rising construction costs
Reduction in annual miles driven
An aging system
(Sources: Department of Transportation, FHWA, FTA)Download this section
Fixing the system
How can this system be fixed?
One way is by raising the fuel tax
It has served Americans well as a user fee for decades.
It is simple to collect and can be done immediately with no additional collection costs.
It is fair: Those who use the roads pay for better and safer roads.
What's the impact?
Increasing the federal gas tax produces real-world benefits for the average motorist.
Save on vehicle repairs$324 per year in vehicle repairs
The average driver currently spends $324 per year in vehicle repairs and operating costs due to poor road conditions.
Cut the costs of congestion5.5 + 2.9 billion hoursbillion gallons of gas
In 2011, Americans wasted a total of 5.5 billion hours and 2.9 billion gallons of gas stuck in traffic. Those numbers are projected to rise to 8.4 billion hours and 4.5 billion gallons in 2020.
PROTECT THE ECONOMY877,000 jobs at risk
877,000 jobs are at risk if Congress doesn’t act now to fill the Highway Trust Fund.