Members of Congress approved spending $198 billion during fiscal years 2012 and 2013 on the war in Afghanistan, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. In contrast, in fiscal year 2012, Congress allocated only $37 billion to the Federal Highway Administration for transportation infrastructure. About $23 billion of this spending on highways, bridges and mass transit comes from the 18.4 cents of federal tax Americans pay on a gallon of gasoline. This tax – instituted in 1993 – has not been adjusted (even for inflation) since it was put in place. From McClatchy:
It’s been 20 years since Congress raised the gasoline tax. The 18.4-cents-a-gallon tax has lost a third of its buying power to inflation and rising construction costs.
The tax feeds the federal Highway Trust Fund, which long has paid for a portion of highway construction and repairs in all 50 states.
The fund used to carry a surplus, but lawmakers have bailed it out since 2008 by tapping the Treasury for $50 billion.
‘That can’t continue indefinitely,’ said John Horsley, who retired in January as the executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. ‘Congress is going to have to find a way to restore funding.’