On December 2, 2020, Jim Burnley was quoted in Logistics Management on hurdles President-elect Joe Biden’s administration will face in addressing surface transportation infrastructure funding.
According to the article, the bulk of the capital for these efforts comes from the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). The fuel tax, which accounts for about 90 percent of HTF net revenue, currently stands at 18.4 cents per gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel. These revenues are allocated for federal highway, transit, and highway safety programs. The current HTF tax levels have not been increased since 1993.
“The program expenditures for highway and transit programs have increased,” Burnley explained. “Over the last five years, revenues have fallen short by a total of more than $140 billion, in terms of paying for existing programs, and that shortfall has been covered by transfers from general treasury accounts.”
“Obviously, you could raise the fuel tax, but the incoming administration could not be clearer about its desire to move automobiles and trucks away from petroleum-based fuels to electric vehicles.” That, in turn, leads to what Burnley called a double whammy. Fuel taxes would need to be increased at a higher level than what would be viewed as politically tolerable or risk another rapidly growing deficit as manufacturers move away from gasoline- or diesel-powered vehicles.
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