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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Sen. Carper files measure to raise gas tax to sustain Highway Trust Fund

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) yesterday filed an amendment to the Preserving America's Transit and Highways Act (PATH) that would sustain the Highway Trust Fund through the calendar year so that the federal government can continue to reimburse states for certain transportation projects.

Carper's amendment would raise the federal gas and diesel tax to their levels in 1993, the last year Congress agreed to raise the tax, according to a press release issued by Carper, a member of the Senate Finance Committee who chairs the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Specifically, Carper's provision would provide for three annual 4-cent increases in the gas and diesel taxes until the federal gas tax reached 30.3 cents per gallon and the diesel tax reached 36.3 cents per gallon — the level the taxes would have reached had been they been indexed to inflation in 1993.

Because gas and diesel taxes are not indexed to inflation, they have lost about a third of their value over the past 21 years, according to Carper's press release. Once the purchasing power of the federal gas and diesel tax was restored, Carper's measure then would provide for an automatic annual adjustment of the tax rates based on the Consumer Price Index inflation calculation. All revenue generated by the taxes would be dedicated exclusively to the Highway Trust Fund, he said.

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