Brink a 25-cent hike in the federal gas tax is a rotten idea for florida tbo.com electricity cost per kwh south africa

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The Highway Account often doesn’t collect enough in fuel taxes to pay for all the desired highway repairs and new construction, so Congress kicks in extra from other sources. In 2016, the fund doled out $4.9 billion more than the states contributed.

Florida’s comparatively puny 1.05 ratio put us in the bottom 15 states for 2016. Calculate the numbers since 1956, and Florida comes out even worse. With a ratio of 1.03, the state tied for eighth lowest return. Who’s at the very bottom? Texas: $83 billion in, only $79 billion back, for a paltry return of 0.94.

Brown’s 2013 study found that the program wasn’t favoring states with larger or busier highway systems or poorer states that needed extra help. Instead, the bigger shares went to rural states and states better represented on key Congressional committees.

"We found that the typical indicators of need did not explain what was going on, so there did not seem to be a good policy justification or public finance justification for what we were seeing," Brown said in a recent interview with the Tampa Bay Times. "The rural issue, as well as a state’s stronger political representation, particularly in the Senate, were more important."

One solution: States should pay for more of their own transportation needs. They already apply their own fuel taxes to finance projects. Florida adds an average of about 34 cents a gallon, depending on the county. States could raise, or lower, those taxes as needed.

If they want to move away from a gas tax, they have other options: enact more tolls, increase vehicle licensing fees or figure out a way to charge motorists for how many miles they drive, which would help account for the increasing number of electric cars that don’t pay the gas tax.

The country isn’t racing to lay railroad tracks through new territories like in the 1860s and 1870s, and the interstate system was largely built out 25 years ago. It would take a lot of creativity to define the recent Interstate 275 upgrades in Tampa as being of national importance. Locally, vital. Nationally, not even a blip.

"There is no sense anymore in road users in Florida subsidizing users in other states, or vice versa," said Gabriel Roth, a research fellow at the libertarian-leaning Independent Institute and author of several books about roads and transit. "If one state makes better use of its road money, it should not be subjected to the wasteful ways of other states."

The federal system of redistributing highway funds adds a layer of government bureaucracy to a process that no longer needs it. This is road building, not national defense or environmental protection. A 25-cent increase would only exacerbate that inefficiency by funneling even more tax dollars through a flawed system.

As taxes go, it’s popular, which might explain why the idea of raising it comes up every couple of years. Most recently, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce came out in support of the 25-cent increase. President Donald Trump even floated the idea of raising it by 50 cents earlier this year as a way to pay for billions of dollars worth of projects.

Recent national polls have the yays and nays about equally split, though both remain below 50 percent. City dwellers favor the hike more than their rural brethren, who often have to drive longer distances. Northerners support it more than southerners. And, surprisingly, Democrats (49 percent) support it only slightly more than Republicans (48 percent), according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll.

"If the public is confident that the revenue will be used for the stated purpose, and there is a perception that, wow, our roads are really bad, then you tend to get a lot of public support," said Jeffrey Brown, a professor in Florida State University’s department of urban and regional planning. "Early on, the gas tax was very popular politically. That’s because people understood that the roads were really bad and we needed to do something about it."

Energy Innovation, a California-based policy and research firm that is neutral on the tax increase, used its nifty energy policy simulator to estimate that the 25-cent increase would generate $840 billion by 2050. That translates to about 50 percent more each year, said Robbie Orvis, the think tank’s director of energy policy design.

The returns, however, would fade over time. The additional tax would raise fuel costs, increasing interest in electric vehicles, which don’t pay the gas tax. By 2050, Orvis estimated that the 25-cent increase would add 1.2 million more electric vehicles to U.S. roads than if the gas tax wasn’t raised. It would also cut total fuel use by more than 1.3 billion barrels, he found.