Millions of Americans recently celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden, but few will likely rejoice at the possibility of higher taxes.
However, that seems like a real possibility as Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Transportation said “I think all options need to be on the table.”
According to Fox News, Pete Buttigieg used his confirmation hearing to note “The gas tax has not been increased since 1993 and it’s never been pegged to inflation.” This means the Highway Trust Fund has been spending more money than it takes in and could become insolent around 2022.
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) January 21, 2021
While Congress has injected funds into the Trust in the past, Buttigieg said the country needs a “solution that can provide some predictability and sustainability.” However, that might not be a gas tax as he noted the shift to electric vehicles could eventually eliminate its purpose.
That being said, Buttigieg stated changes to the gas tax could be a solution for the short to medium term. He didn’t go into specifics, but suggested this “could mean revisiting the gas tax, adjusting it, and / or connecting it to inflation.”
Following the confirmation hearing, a Buttigieg spokesperson reportedly disavowed his comments and said a “variety of options need to be on the table to ensure we can invest in our highways and create jobs, but increasing the gas tax is not among them.”
The Detroit Bureau notes the gas tax has remained 18.4 cents per gallon for the past 28 years and was set at a time when vehicles averaged around 21 mpg. That number jumped to 25.7 mpg last year and it means less money to fix America’s crumbling roads.
Infrastructure funding has been an ongoing issue and one with no easy answers. Tax increases are widely unpopular, despite nearly everyone agreeing that better roads are needed. Alternative proposals, such as taxing people by the number of miles they drive, also face issues of their own as many would likely object to that kind of government monitoring.