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When Americans Will Support Higher Gas Taxes

| April 29, 2015

Road repair

According to a new study, Americans indeed are willing to pay increased taxes at the gas pump if the revenue is invested in specific transportation improvements.

These results from a new Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) national telephone survey indicate that Americans would likely support proposed federal legislation for funding transportation infrastructure.

One of the proposed federal bills, H.R. 1846, would index the gas tax to inflation and create a bi-partisan, bi-cameral transportation commission that would provide long-term funding of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). Another proposed bill, H.R. 680, would increase the gas tax by five cents per year for three years.

“Conventional wisdom says that Americans strongly oppose any increase in the federal gas tax,” said Dr. Agrawal. “However, this survey shows that significant majorities want the government to provide better transportation infrastructure, are willing to pay for improvements, and want gas tax revenue spent on public transportation as well as on roads and highways.”

The researchers emphasized that voters will support targeted purposes.

For example, one section of the survey tested whether people would support a ten-cent increase in the federal gas tax, which is currently 18.4 cents per gallon. Only 31% of respondents supported a gas tax increase for general transportation improvements, with no other information given.

By contrast, 50% or more supported gas tax increases dedicated to more targeted transportation purposes such as improving maintenance (71% support), improving safety (64%), or reducing local air pollution (52%). When asked whether or not gas tax revenue should be used to pay for public transit, a near “supermajority” (65%) said yes.

“They envision a transportation future with a multimodal, safe, and well-maintained system,” said Dr. Agrawal. “More than 80% of respondents said that government should prioritize expanding and improving local public transit. Also, 91% want government to improve the safety of the transportation system, and 97% want government to prioritize maintenance of streets, roads, and highways.”

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Category: Featured, General Update

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