- Desperate to improve its own infrastructure, the state of California may raise gas taxes for the first time in 23 years, American Shipper reported Tuesday.
- The proposed tax would raise $52.4 billion in infrastructure funding over the next decade. Both local and state agencies would benefit significantly from the hike, splitting the $5 billion-plus raised each year.
- To ensure that the funds are spent strictly on infrastructure, the legislation includes a constitutional amendment forbidding the use of the money raised on any other type of project.
Prior to the 2016 election, it's unknown how many Americans understood the sorry state of our national infrastructure. Now, with talk of trillion dollar investments and ASCE reports handing out barely passing grades on roads, bridges, ports and rail transport, calls for better infrastructure have become prominent.
California is in a particularly precarious position, due to its ports and its seemingly unmanageable highway traffic. While campaign promises remain unfulfilled at present, the state is preparing to underwrite its own rescue, per the American Shipper report. The largest share of the funds ($15 billion) would go to "fix-it-first" road repairs, with an additional $2 billion dedicated for "self-help" programs and $825 million to the State Transportation Improvement Program. The state reportedly needs at least $10 billion for basic bridge repairs and to reduce congestion on highways and trade corridors.
Gas taxes are often opposed or deemed an unfair burden in their uneven effect, but at this point, many states will resort to almost any measure to keep their invaluable infrastructure intact. Earlier, an air pollution regulator in Southern California proposed charging a container tax to help fund green initiatives (to significant opposition).