USA Today: Motorists Aren't Paying Enough for Roads
As you drive to grandmaâ€™s house for Thanksgiving, just keep in mind youâ€™re not paying enough in taxes for those roads youâ€™re driving on.
Thatâ€™s the viewpoint Larry Copeland of USA Today advanced on the front page of the paperâ€™s November 20 edition in his article, â€śMotorists face new costs for highways: States, cities finding gas tax inadequate.â€ť
Yet while Copeland was diligent to relay the tax-hungry pleas of politicians, he left out conservative critics who argue states and the federal government already bring in plenty of tax money for maintaining roads and building bridges.
â€śThis has been a big theme of mine for the two years leading up to the reauthorization of the federal highway program,â€ť Dr. Ronald Utt of the conservative Heritage Foundation told the Business & Media Institute. Utt, a transportation policy expert for the Washington-based think tank, said that â€śonly about 60 percent of the federal fuel taxâ€ť goes to road projects that benefit motorists. â€śThe rest leaks off into diversions and frivolities,â€ť Utt added.
Among those â€śdiversions and frivolitiesâ€ť are numerous â€śearmarkedâ€ť expenditures, known commonly as pork-barrel projects, which have little to do with paving roads or building bridges.
Nowhere in his story did Copeland hint that reckless spending has a role in transportation funding inadequacies.
â€śTransportation funding is pretty much a critical issue everywhere,â€ť Copeland quoted Matt Sundeen of the National Conference of State Legislatures. â€śA lot of states are really struggling to find ways to pay for the transportation programs,â€ť he lamented, before Copeland went on to suggest new taxes states could levy on motorists, such as a â€śpay by the mileâ€ť program being tested in Oregon or â€ścongestion pricingâ€ť for toll road use at rush hours.