Business, Labor Leaders Urge Federal Gas Tax Hike

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congress must raise the federal gasoline tax or risk the Highway Trust Fund running out of money by as early as September, U.S. business and labor leaders testified yesterday.

If the Highway Trust Fund were to run out, road building and other infrastructure projects could be slowed. In addition, the U.S. economy could be negatively affected, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka testified.

"These investments not only create jobs but spur economic growth, ensure our country’s long-term economic global competitiveness and improve the quality of life for our citizens," Trumka said, reported Reuters.

The U.S. Transportation Department currently relies on an 18.4-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline and 24.4-cent-per-gallon price hike on diesel. These gas taxes have not been raised since 1993.

Trumka supports a 15-cent-per-gallon increase on both gas and diesel taxes, which would be phased in over three years. U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue supports a similar gas-tax increase.

The Highway Trust Fund takes in approximately $35 billion annually. However, an increased desire by consumers to drive fuel-efficient vehicles and reduced driving since 2007 due to higher gas prices have in part led to a depletion in dollars the Fund collects.

Raising federal gas taxes may not get enough support in Congress, however. According to the news source, several politicians would prefer to look for other sources of revenue to support the Highway Trust Fund, including a levy on oil at refineries.

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