Ohio congressional candidates cool to idea of increasing gas tax

Rich Exner, Northeast Ohio Media Group | Cleveland.com
October 15, 2014

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Several Ohio congressional candidates on the November ballot in Northeast Ohio say more money is needed for the upkeep of the nation’s roads and highways, but they offer little support for raising the federal gasoline tax.

The Northeast Ohio Media Group, in preparing the Voter Guide published at cleveland.com/voterguide, put the gas tax question to the candidates because of concerns raised in Washington that the Highway Trust Fund is in need of help.

Since the gas tax is applied per gallon rather than as a percentage of the price, collections don’t go up with inflation. And, as cars and trucks get better gas mileage, the amount of money collected per mile traveled goes down.

The gas tax was last increased 20 years ago, in 1994, when it was raised from 14.1 cents a gallon to 18.4 cents a gallon.

The federal gas tax was just half that amount – 9 cents a gallon – as late as 1987 and only 4 cents a gallon in 1983.

Gas tax question

The gasoline tax has not kept up with the need for money for highway repairs, partly because better fuel efficiency means we buy less gasoline. Will you support raising the tax, now at 18.4 cents a gallon? If not, how will you get the money, or is the money not needed?

7th District

Bob Gibbs (R): In the current market and economy, I do not see a desire on either side of the aisle to increase the gas tax. I do believe that as we work on the next highway reauthorization bill all options should be on the table that could also include other inputs into the trust fund from oil and gas royalties, repatriation of overseas funds and the continued streamlining of costs it takes to build our nations roads.

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9th District

Cory Hoffman (I): I would not support raising the gas tax for highway repairs. Taxes serve no revenue function for the U.S. Federal Government which has Monetary Sovereignty. Congress can at any time appropriate any amount it wants to repair our highways and create state of the art transportation in accord with its Constitutional powers without a dime of gasoline taxes and should do so. I propose eliminating the gas tax in the short term to promote full employment. With that said, tax policy should be evaluated based on its practical effect and gas taxes have the effect of deterring fossil fuel use. Thus, a high gas tax/carbon tax in the medium to long term as a part of broader tax reform makes sense to combat climate change and encourage a green economy.

Marcy Kaptur (D): Transportation is vital to our economy and a major job creator, but it is energy intensive and America remains far too dependent on imported petroleum. Rather than a gasoline tax, I would seek revenue from a fee placed on imported energy and a small transaction fee on Wall Street derivative trading to begin to repay America for the serious damage and job loss Wall Street greed exacted across our nation.

Richard May (R): No, I will not raise taxes. Federal government waste is legendary. We need efficiency experts in our federal government like we have them in the private sector. That can take care of our highway costs as well as eliminate our national deficit.

George Skalsky (I): I would support a small increase in the gas tax so it approaches historical levels as a proportion of the price of a gallon. Money for infrastructure, job creation, and transitioning off carbon is going to have to come from more than raising the gasoline tax. My suggestions include: • A National Internet Sales tax to be shared equally by the Federal govt, the buyer’s residency state, and the sellers state • A “Financial Transaction Tax” to also discourage speculative, risky, and insider “Casino Capitalism” being played by Wall Street with “other people’s (our) money” • Redoing our tax code so all pay a fair share so we have both a thriving private sector and a strong public sector to do all necessary work that the public sector does best

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11th District

Marcia L. Fudge (D): Approximately 90% of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) receipts come from the annual tax collections on gasoline and diesel fuels. From a revenue side of the argument, there is no way the U.S. can maintain its economic edge unless we find the will and the means to rebuild and modernize our surface transportation systems. However, increasingly, voters want guarantees that a gas tax increase will be equitably applied and used to pay for highway and transit improvements that directly benefit them. Even with the promise of such guarantees, there is not overwhelming voter support for much of an increase in the federal gas tax. To ensure we have safer roads and bridges, Congress must confront the long term solvency of the HTF.

Mark Zetzer (R): Gasoline taxes should be repealed and government road and highway monopolies busted up and privatized. The natural monopoly argument for government roads just doesn’t fly. Any map app can often give you 3 or 4 different routes to anywhere. Free market roads would have reduced congestion, faster speeds and better service than regional road monopolies. Privatization would also encourage infrastructure construction and maintenance, but without the use of eminent domain that violates property rights. Free market roads would be better policed as the owners focus on serious crime rather than on victimless offenses like random speeding tickets that discourage customers. Incidentally, we’re also buying less gasoline because less of us are working.

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14th District

David P. Joyce (R): Rebuilding our infrastructure is a common sense, jobs-oriented issue we could & should focus on more. However, I’m not a big fan of raising the excise tax on gas. The reality is we would have to almost double the tax to just meet the funding shortfall & that does not take into account future needs or address increased hybrid & electric cars. We need to explore other funding sources, that is why I introduced The Partnership to Build America Act w/ Rep. John Delaney, which would create the American Infrastructure Fund. Infrastructure jobs are important because we should be spending taxpayer dollars on American made products. There are not any Republican roads or Democrat bridges and these jobs can not be outsourced to India or China.

David Macko (L): Although the Constitution authorizes post roads and an implied need for interstate highways during the Cold War when mass armies were a major threat, there is no need for federal control of highways now. This responsibility should be returned to the states along with all the advantages of local control. The concept of truly privatized roads as envisioned by Walter Block in The Privatization Of Roads & Highways is worthy of consideration by the state legislatures. I will never support raising taxes or fees or imposing new ones. I will work to repeal the fedgov gas tax and all other federal taxes on automobiles and other motor transport since they will not be needed. Especially, when gasoline is over $3 a gallon there should be a moratorium.

Michael Wager (D): Shoring up the Federal Highway Trust Fund is an important step towards rebuilding and improving America’s crumbling infrastructure. Increasing the gas tax is one way to approach the problem, but we must look for new revenues by ending tax breaks for oil companies, and closing loopholes that allow large corporations to dodge taxes and dump their tax burden on the middle class.

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16th District

Pete Crossland (D): High repairs (and other Infrastructure needs) are not being adequately met. Raising the gas tax just to reflect inflation would be a first step. Again this is an example of an area where some compromise is necessary. The interstate system was controversial because of cost, but has been an incredible plus for businesses , the economy and for motorists. While interest rates are low, now is a time to work out a comprehensive infrastructure investment for our future

Jim Renacci (R): The gas tax has fallen well short of meeting the needs of maintaining our vital infrastructure. I believe we need a long-term solution to our infrastructure needs, and while an increase in the gas tax is an option that remains on the table, it does not sufficiently account for all users of our highway system. There are several creative solutions being considered, including the use of repatriated dollars, as suggested in Chairman Camp’s tax reform draft. Ultimately, we must ensure that all users of our roads are fairly assessed, including vehicles that use non-traditional fuel sources, which are not currently subject to the gas tax.

 

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