Currently, the Federal Gas Tax sits at 18.4 cents per gallon of gas. The last gas tax hike came waaay back in 1993. Now, the bipartisan deficit reduction committee has proposed a 15 cent gas tax hike. So how will the public respond?
A higher gas tax is not something new, though it proposing a hike in prices at the pump has been kin to political suicide, especially since the gas crunch that helped launch us into this recession. The last time the gas tax was raised was back in 1993, when it went up from 14.1 cents to 18.4 cents, where it still sits today. For nearly twenty years, we’ve had the same gas tax, never adjusted for inflation. That just won’t fly.
Now, I know the conservatives who took over Congress are all about lower taxes and less spending. Cutting spending won’t work alone though. A gas tax really is the fairest way to charge people for their use of public roadways, at least until electric cars or other alt-fuel vehicles start hitting the road en masse. Higher gas taxes might also convince more people to get fuel efficient or electric cars. Believe it or not though, this wouldn’t be even close to the highest hike in gas taxes (as a percentage). Between 1932 and 1959, the gas tax per gallon was just 1 cent, though it was raised to a whooping 4 cents in ’59. Noticing a pattern? It takes between 20 and 30 years for the government to raise gas taxes. Slow pokes.
The thing with the gas tax though is that it has to be very, very gradual. Gas prices have been going up in my area by as much as 10 cents a gallon over night, and I’m already seeing many premium fuels priced around $3.50. Add another 15 cents to that and you are approaching that dread $4 a gallon mark. Our economy is still quite precarious, and as much as I am for raising the gas tax, I’m not sure this is the right time. But just hearing the idea bandied about from a bipartisan committee is, to me, progress.
What do you guys think would be a reasonable raise in gas taxes?
Source: Green Car Advisor
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to Hemis. You can follow his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout.