Motor-Fuel Tax (and Caffeine) Makes us Go

Infrastructure Insight -

Budgeting for Road Upkeep, Improvements is Cheap Compared to other Household Expenditures

July 1st marks the start of many fiscal years, so there has been a lot of talk recently about budgets.

Keeping within a budget is an essential part of financial freedom. While the U.S. government might not be a good example of staying within one itself, MoneyWatch reports it as good news that the nation’s government would have a deficit of only $642 billion in FY13 (albeit that is a $200 billion improvement over FY12).

… Wait, you’re looking a little sheepish; you don’t have a personal budget do you? It’s OK, (and I’m whispering here) you and I are like the six out of 10 Americans that don’t have a budget. You and I know, though, how important it is to make a budget and – unlike the federal government – stick to it.

There are a bunch of websites and information to show how to create a budget. Heck, even the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) released results of a survey that make you take notice.

ARTBA’s survey of more than 1,000 American adults centered on the motor-fuel tax (I didn’t even think about budgeting for taxes). Compared to other household expenditures, the combined total of the state and federal motor-fuel tax is pennies compared to television and internet, electricity and gas and phone service.

The federal motor-fuel tax of 18.4 cents per gallon and the state motor-fuel tax – which in Ohio is 28 cents/gallon – are what provide funding for the construction and maintenance of our roads and bridges. Many Americans believe that when gas prices increase at the pump so does motor-fuel tax revenue – they’re wrong; but that’s another story. Anyway, most multi-car households spend a little more than $46 a month in motor-fuel tax (that’s the federal and state per-gallon tax combined) – a far cry from other household expenditures. Take a look:

   Road/transit improvements $46.33
   Television/Internet $123.93
   Electricity/Gas $159.34
   Telephone/Cell phone $161.25

(Source: ARTBA)

Though it doesn’t hit us in the pocketbook or wallet as much as other items to pay for, the cost of good roads is a high priority for Americans. The ARTBA survey found that eight in 10 of us say driving a motor vehicle is “very” or “extremely” important to our ability to conduct our daily lives. And nine in 10 Americans say our transportation infrastructure is important for a strong U.S. economy.

$46.33 – the amount that I pay each month to improve the roads I rely on for work, food, clothing, almost everything – is about what I spend monthly for coffee and sweet tea. Wait, I better budget for my caffeine fix.


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