Oregon Lawmaker Chimes In On Declining Federal Highway Fund

By Tom Bacon

The law of unintended consequences has jumped up to bite the federal government in its drive to increase fuel economy in the nation's vehicles.
The federal highway trust fund - a huge pot of money to build and maintain highways - is shrinking because tax revenues from gasoline taxes are shrinking.

Oregon Democratic congressman Earl Blumenauer thinks he might have an answer.
Blumenauer has introduced a bill to require the U-S Treasury department to study the viability of raising new federal highway funds by taxing cars and light trucks for each mile they drive, rather than by the amount of gasoline they use.

Blumenauer said that the highway trust fund needs another 15-billion dollars a year on top of gas taxes already collected just to maintain 2009 funding levels.

So he wants to shift to a Vehicle Miles Traveled taxing program - VMT for short.

The Congressional Budget Office last year reported that such a taxing plan is feasible if devices are installed on  vehicles that read how far they've been driven. Those devices could be read at gas stations.

Blumenauer said that V-M-T fees have been tested in Oregon, and that his bill would start testing such a program nationwide.
He said - quoting - we must invest in our nation's roads, bridges and public transit to prevent enormous costs in the future.

According to the Oregon congressman, the highway trust fund faces a 21 percent reduction in revenue by 2040.
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