I am posting on the main page of the blog this e-mail that I just received from Senator John Carona, chairman of the Senate committee on Transportation and Homeland Security, in response to my suggestion that the state gasoline tax should be increased by 50%. Look, folks. Paul Burka is right on this one. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security, I can attest that the only near-term answer to the transportation funding dilemma we are facing is to raise and index the gas tax. Stopping the diversion of gas tax revenues for other legislative purposes, as is long overdue, will not alone solve the problem. Calls from naysayers indicating that the tax would have to be raised to $1.50/gal are ill-informed. The Governor’s Business Council, a blue ribbon panel of Perry invitees, told the Legislature over three years ago that the shortage of roadway dollars (estimated then at $60-90 billion dollars, depending upon whomever you believe) could be corrected by a modest (ten cents per gallon) gas tax increase, indexed to annual inflation in highway construction costs, and then bonded against. Those who speak otherwise share misinformation and are sending us into a massive network of privately-operated toll roads which will cost the average driver exponentially more than simply raising the gas tax. The motor fuels (gas) tax is a credible source of transportation funding for at least the next 20 years. Based upon careful study, it is by far the most fiscally conservative way to build our Texas roads. The persons who most often criticize it are politicians doing their level best to avoid any sort of “tax increase” on their political record. Where, fellow drivers, is the statesmanship in that?
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