Should the Gas Tax Be Increased?
It has been widely commented on that Senator Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler) has proposed increasing the gasoline tax by ten cents per gallon. Naturally this proposal, which amounts to a user tax, has drawn the fire of Empower Texans’ Michael Quinn Sullivan. No surprise there.
But Mr. Sullivan should explain why it is better to build highways with bonds than with taxes. The debt incurred from bonding highways results in huge interest payments. Is that more conservative than a pay-as-you-drive gasoline tax? Lawmakers should also consider how many miles of free roads we could have built if the gasoline tax had been increased during Rick Perry’s governorship.
Bonds could be issued against the revenues raised by the gasoline tax, and we wouldn’t have to build more toll roads. One of the arguments that is advanced against raising the gasoline tax is (other than an ideological anti-tax diatribe) is that the tax doesn’t perform well; that is, today’s fuel-efficient cars get more mileage per gallon, which means that ten cents of gasoline tax doesn’t raise the money that it used to. But the tax would help the ultimate goals of (a) retiring debt and (b) building more highways. It is far more fiscally sound than issuing more debt, which is a classic example of being penny-wise and pound foolish.