Repairing and rebuilding our neglected transportation network starts with securing long-term, stable stream for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF).
Established to help fund our National Highway System, bridges, and public transit systems, the HTF has been insolvent for more than a decade, in large part because the federal gas tax — the user fee that provides most of the trust fund’s revenue — has not been increased since 1993 and is not indexed to inflation.
Rather than increase revenues to meet the growing freight and population needs of our nation, lawmakers have spent more than 10 years relying on budget gimmicks, large cash transfers from the general treasury, and 36 short-term extensions of our federal surface transportation program to keep federal highway and transit programs just barely afloat. While ignoring increased pressures on our transportation system, federal underinvestment also leaves states facing growing backlogs of deferred maintenance, which puts commuters at risk and places serious but avoidable economic strain on American families and business. Put simply, the result of federal inaction leaves us trying to pay for 21st-century infrastructure needs on a 1990s budget. This is unacceptable to the American people and should be unacceptable to their elected leaders in Washington, D.C.
We encourage all 2020 candidates to commit to stabilizing the highway trust fund by endorsing an increase to the federal user fee, be that the federal gas tax, a vehicles mile traveled fee, or some other type of mechanism that relies on road users to help support the trust fund.