By Saba Long
Transportation for America, a Washington, D.C.-based organization pushing for 21st century transportation infrastructure improvements across the country, recently announced nineteen states have put forth plans — some have already failed to pass — to raise revenue for transportation projects.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley successfully lobbied the state’s General Assembly to pass a 20- cent increase to the gas tax phased in through year 2016. In the future, the gas tax will be indexed for inflation. Dubbed the Maryland Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act, the legislation will also impose a 3 percent sales tax on gasoline purchases. The two revenue models are expected to raise $4.4 billion over six years.
Others states that were able to effectively increase their gas tax for transportation infrastructure purposes include New Hampshire and Wyoming.
For some states, new transportations will be a dream deferred.
Last month in Mississippi, the Chair of the House Transportation Committee, a Democrat, introduced a bill to raise the state’s gas tax for highway funding. Additionally, a Republican in the State Senate introduced a bill to link casino winnings to the state’s highway fund. Both bills failed to make it out of committee.
The Indiana General Assembly introduced two bills, one would allow counties in the Indianapolis region to implement partial penny sales tax increases for expanding transit while the other would increase the gas tax to fund bridge repair and maintenance.
At an event in Detroit last week, former General Motors Vice Chair Robert Lutz remarked an increase in the gas tax is necessary to both reduce America’s addiction to oil and to fix the “unholy mess of this nation’s highway infrastructure”.
Additionally, the recent news the Obama Administration selected Anthony Foxx, Mayor of Charlotte, N.C., to replace Ray LaHood as U.S. Transportation Secretary bodes well for the South. We have seen the benefits of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s Washington, D.C. lobbying efforts for federal funding of the deepening of the Savannah Port.
Foxx as U.S. Transportation Secretary adds another arrow in the quiver for Reed’s transportation efforts.
Efforts to increase transportation spending must continue — in Georgia and across the country.
In metro Atlanta, we are continuing to pay a “congestion tax” as motorists remain in their vehicles without sustainable transportation options.
Unlike the aforementioned states, our General Assembly chose not to bring forth another transportation bill in the 2013 General Assembly nor is there talk of considering to do so next year.
Each year the State of Georgia turns a blind eye to the transportation infrastructure needs of the transit-centric urban core and rural roadway commuters, we will continue to fall behind competitor cities and states.