Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York opposes a GOP-led push to raise the federal gas tax increase to help finance the Trump administration’s effort to resuscitate the country’s highways.
Schumer’s decision bucks a measure that Democrats usually float to fix state, city, and local roads. One of his counterparts in California, in fact, signed a law in 2017 making the state the highest gas tax state in the country.
“The bottom line is that we don’t want to raise taxes on working people right now,” Schumer told reporters earlier this month. California Republicans made a similar argument against Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s gas tax hike in April – the increase was concocted to pay for road improvements.
“As it stands now that is where we are at. Income distribution is so bad, I would rather pay for infrastructure by taking the money that comes from overseas [repatriation] and putting it into infrastructure,” he said.
President Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, raised the specter of ratcheting up the tax on gasoline, which is currently at 18.4 cents per gallon and hasn’t been raised since 1993. House Democrats, who have been far more favorably disposed to the idea, have said that the tax Cohn floated wasn’t sufficient enough.
Trump campaigned during the 2016 presidential campaign on revamping the nation’s depleted highway infrastructure. The cost of his plan hovered between $250 billion and $1 trillion dollars throughout the president’s campaign.
“[W]e’re going to have a very big infrastructure plan. And bill. And it’s going to come soon. And I think we’ll have support from Democrats and Republicans,” Trump told The New York Times in April, nearly eight months ago. The administration has not been forthcoming on its plans to resuscitate the president’s election year promise.
Cohn’s suggestion has not hit much pay dirt among Republicans, who are not predisposed to support gas tax increases.
The California law imposes a $0.12-cents a gallon increase on citizens and raises the tax on diesel fuel by $0.20 cents a gallon. It also implements an additional charge to annual vehicle license fees ranging from $25 to $175 depending on the car’s value.
Gas taxes are supposed to provide revenue for road construction, maintenance, repair, and improvements, but states typically divert much of the money to other sources.
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