Newswise — Rick Geddes is a professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management, the director of the Cornell Program in Infrastructure Policy and a member of the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs. An expert on public policy and infrastructure, his research focuses on innovative funding to meet transportation needs. Geddes insists the heightened political clash over the Highway Trust Fund is masking the real problem – the system of funding highways based on gallons of gas used is unfair and unsustainable.
“The federal Highway Trust Fund, where 18.4 cents from every gallon of gas purchased in the U.S. resides, will run short of funds on Aug. 1. The Senate surprised everyone today by refusing to adopt the House’s proposed fix. The House version would have ensured that payments from the fund would occur until May, while the Senate version extends until December only. Some senators are hoping that the shorter-term fix will force this Congress to formulate longer-term solutions to the Highway Trust Fund’s chronic shortfalls.
"This dispute is symptomatic of a more fundamental policy problem: the current fuel-tax approach to funding roads, bridges and tunnels is unsustainable. Americans are driving less, they are driving more fuel-efficient cars, they are driving cars that don’t use gas, and gas taxes aren’t indexed to inflation. Oregon is leading the way toward a long-term sustainable solution: charging drivers per mile driven, regardless of the fuel they use. Mileage-based user fees, or MBUFs, are equitable and would ensure sufficient infrastructure funding to maintain and expand roads where needed. They are the right replacement for America’s outdated fuel-tax funding system."
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