Chamber of Commerce backs gas tax hike

The US Chamber of Commerce says it's time to raise the gas tax to help build and repair roads and bridges. But with little government support, is it possible?
The US Chamber of Commerce says it's time to raise the gas tax to help build and repair roads and bridges. But with little government support, is it possible? Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images

The House and Senate have begun work on a new multi-year transportation bill. The challenge is how to pay for everything.

The price of gasoline in Southern California has topped $4 a gallon. A little more than 18 cents of the price you pay for a gallon of gas goes to the federal government for highway and bridge repairs and other transportation needs.

That tax hasn’t changed for nearly two decades. The US Chamber of Commerce says it’s time to raise it. Chamber President Tom Donohue says in that period of time, "we’ve more than doubled the miles per gallon and added lots of cars and trucks to the highway. Which translated means you’re spending less than half of what you did before to upgrade, maintain, and keep the highway going."

But California Sen. Barbara Boxer, who heads the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, says a gas tax hike is "not gonna happen. It’s not gonna happen because there’s not the votes for it. The president’s not for it - and as we know, gas prices are very, very high."

Donohue says he isn’t giving up. He says building and repairing roads and bridges means much needed construction jobs.

"Maybe it can’t be done now, but we better damn well start thinking about it," he says.

Boxer says truckers, who pay nearly a quarter a gallon in federal taxes for diesel, are willing to discuss a fuel tax increase - as long as it funds repairs for the roads they use.

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