USA Today: Motorists Aren't Paying Enough for Roads
As you drive to grandma‚Äôs house for Thanksgiving, just keep in mind you‚Äôre not paying enough in taxes for those roads you‚Äôre driving on.
That‚Äôs the viewpoint Larry Copeland of USA Today advanced on the front page of the paper‚Äôs November 20 edition in his article, ‚ÄúMotorists face new costs for highways: States, cities finding gas tax inadequate.‚ÄĚ
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.
‚ÄúThis has been a big theme of mine for the two years leading up to the reauthorization of the federal highway program,‚ÄĚ 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 ‚Äúonly about 60 percent of the federal fuel tax‚ÄĚ goes to road projects that benefit motorists. ‚ÄúThe rest leaks off into diversions and frivolities,‚ÄĚ Utt added.
Among those ‚Äúdiversions and frivolities‚ÄĚ are numerous ‚Äúearmarked‚ÄĚ 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.
‚ÄúTransportation funding is pretty much a critical issue everywhere,‚ÄĚ Copeland quoted Matt Sundeen of the National Conference of State Legislatures. ‚ÄúA lot of states are really struggling to find ways to pay for the transportation programs,‚ÄĚ he lamented, before Copeland went on to suggest new taxes states could levy on motorists, such as a ‚Äúpay by the mile‚ÄĚ program being tested in Oregon or ‚Äúcongestion pricing‚ÄĚ for toll road use at rush hours.