Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 23, 2014

Construction Union Urges Congress to Heed Poll Data on Highway Repairs, Gas Tax

Polling data shows a majority of the American people worried about pothole-pitted highways and aging bridges. Yet members of Congress don’t yet seem willing to raise the 18.4-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline to replenish the Highway Trust Fund, which pays for infrastructure. CQ Roll Call’s David Harrison says House Republicans are still figuring out how to pass a short-term extension of the Trust Fund before the summer recess.

A Hart Research Associates poll commissioned by the Laborers’ International Union of North America found that nearly three out of five Americans say they worry about unsafe driving conditions due to deteriorating road surfaces. Two out of five said they or someone they know has almost had an accident or lost control of their car due to bad road surfaces.

“I don’t know how much more evidence Congress could possibly need to know it is their solemn responsibility to pass a long-term, full investment highway bill this year,” LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan told reporters in a conference call on Thursday.

LIUNA supports a bill sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., to increase the gasoline tax to 33.3 cents per gallon.

O’Sullivan cited a separate poll conducted for the American Automobile Association that found that a majority would be willing to pay higher gasoline taxes “if they are assured that what they pay goes toward making our roads and bridges safer.”

The Department of Transportation’s Trust Fund ticker shows that the fund will be depleted by August. On the conference call with O’Sullivan, Avery Ash, AAA’s director of Federal Relations said, “We’ve already heard a number of governors coming out and saying they’re planning on scaling back state-level projects. If we do see the Trust Fund run dry in August, the real impact on motorists at that point is going to be impacting day-to-day and summer travel. And that’s really going to get people’s attention.”

  • aledukes

    NO NEW TAXES!!!!!!

    • Jesse4

      Who needs taxes when the money fairy will just wave the magic money wand to pay for more road repairs?

      • aledukes

        YOU F’ing can send them all you want of YOUR money!!

        • Jesse4

          No, like I just explained, we can go Libertarian and just have the money fairy take care of it.
          See? I’m agreeing with you.

          • aledukes

            YOU are the money fairy! Like I said you can give them as much of YOURS as you want!!

    • Mike Straw

      fully agree. read my comment to understand my thoughts on this.

  • Shagnasty1

    Higher fuel efficiency cars pay less road taxes per mile creating this problem. Why should those of us already paying our share of road taxes have to pay more? Raising the gas taxes hurts those of us who need larger vehicles the most and those who caused this problem the least. I have a better idea than raising any gas taxes on all of us. Our income tax system takes a higher percentage on higher incomes. We can adapt this to vehicles getting the most mileage. Place an annual tax surcharge on vehicles getting over 35mpg which gets progressively higher as the car is more fuel efficient. This way those people will feel better about themselves because they would be paying a fair amount for the roads they use for a change.

    • rdcress

      I like it!

    • Danielle Tidd

      How do you figure you have caused this problem the least just because your life choices have deemed that you need a large gas guzzler? I feel better about myself already by having made life choices and sacrifices that allow me to drive a smaller, lighter, and more fuel efficient vehicle.

      • aledukes

        BUT then again YOUR SPECIAL!!

      • Shagnasty1

        Sometimes we don’t have a choice but to drive a larger vehicle, whether it be in our work or our personal lives. Maybe we just want to drive a larger and safer vehicle which is our business. But for whatever reason we already pay our share of the road taxes by the volume of fuel we use per mile driven. Those who drive more fuel efficient cars don’t use as much fuel so don’t pay as much towards their use of the roads. Then there are those who drive hybrids or electric and pay little or nothing. Roads cost money to build and maintain. I pay my share already and don’t want to pay more so someone else who doesn’t pay anything can continue to use the roads at my expense.

        • Danielle Tidd

          I wonder if you would feel the same if truckers were trying to get you to pay as much as they do for road upkeep? They pay even more in gas taxes than we do.

          • Shagnasty1

            Just a slight difference for your liberal mind to comprehend. Trucks weigh a whole lot more than light trucks and cars. As weight vehicle and its load capacity above 10000 lb.GVW increases the wear on roads increases exponentially. Because of that it costs more to build and maintain roads and bridges that carry them than it does roads and bridges that carry only vehicles, under 10000 lb GVW and that is why large trucks are not allowed on certain streets, roads and bridges. Do you understand that?
            But no matter what you drive you should pay for using the road. Hybrids and other highly economical cars that use very little petroleum fuels pay very little and like bicycles electric cars pay nothing towards the roads.

          • mokyfellow

            Shagnasty1, your comment supports my belief that most of the freight in the USA should be moving via trains. This nations has become a nation of “I want it now today, not tomorrow”!!! This state of mind was caused by trucks.

          • Shagnasty1

            Much of it does travel by rail and truck lines do use the rail for freight that getting there eventually works. But if your freight is time sensitive you better ship by truck. And unlike the hybrids and electric cars trucks do pay their way.

    • aledukes

      NO!!

  • Heather Sharp

    A construction union thinks we should give them more money. Go figure…

    • Jesse4

      Who needs them?
      We can just let the roads fix themselves.

  • rdcress

    I’m not willing to pay one more cent because the money thus far has been squandered and spend on unneeded projects. It’s been diverted and spend on pork projects. It’s laughable to call it a trust fund. There is no fund and there certainly isn’t any trust of those spending it. If the gas tax is raised, it will go for bridges named after Senators and Congressmen, memorial hiways, and to subsidize foreign companies building huge money sucking toll-ways. No they should better utilize the money they have by cutting staff, cutting wasteful spending and cutting the corruption. NO NEW or INCREASED TAXES!!!

    • aledukes

      “TOLL WAYS” are GREAT! You don’t use them, you don’t pay for them!!

  • robertdavidhummel

    NO NEW or INCREASED TAXES!!! …PERIOD>

    The GOVERNMENT …NEEDS to UNLEASH OUR Nations ENERGY Resources, and STOP the EPA from DESTROYING our our Natural resource of COAL

    The NEXT IMPORTANT MEASURE is to STOP USE our Food Resources as in , CORN< for Fuel mixture, The EPA, and the Green IDIOTS have wreaked enough havoc on FOOD PRICES, and Destruction of our Fuel Fired Engines & Machinery.

    The CONGRESS…MUST TAKE ALL EXTREME and URGENT MEASURES possible to REIN-IN the EPA's …WILLFUL DESTRUCTION of America's ECONOMY, and THREATS to Make America like a Third WORLD Country, …PERIOD.

    • http://none.com Jack Everett

      You need to find a new jopb trolling does not suit you!

      • robertdavidhummel

        I agree that you might DISAGREE, BUT, …. making sense of your comment is FUTILE.

  • Clark Simpson

    The only plan the government has is to take more and more of our money. It has no other way of solving a problem other than to throw money at it. Their idea of fixing a problem is to pay for repairs rather than to stop the destruction behavior.

  • sosted

    Of course we would be assured that the money would be directly spent on needed roas repairs…………But then we also know that politicians never lie……….To get elected, to pass bills that favor thier donors, pass legislation that fundamentally change the Governments intrusion into our lives etc……Yea that would never happen……dream on people…..Big Government is corrupt government…Period!

    • Shagnasty1

      I had read one time, I believe it was when the bridge collapsed in Minneapolis, that the highway trust fund had adequate cash but was not being allocated. I don’t know if that is true but I do know a lot of that money has gone for projects having nothing to do with roads. Often mass transit is funded with this money. I am not dismissing the need for mass transit but my gasoline taxes are supposed to go for the highways, not buses or trains. There was a project north of Houston to make a waterway to mimic the San Antonio Riverwalk. Highway funds were diverted for that. That was a gross misuse of funds. The Congressman that diverted that money to enrich his buddy is gone now, damn crooks! Bicycle paths are often funded with highway funds. Let the bicyclists pay for their own bike paths and leave the highway funds for highways.

  • Mike Straw

    Instead of all the people collecting free money without working for it, put them to work on our infrastructure across the nation. It is completely illogical to understand why we’re not doing that. Just think of what can be done. In the eastern part of our country the water and sewer lines are 100+ years old and don’t support properly. Hell, the water lines are so leaky, we’re loosing water and water pressure in every major city. Our power, phone and cable lines, bury them or let’s at least get rid of phone and cable lines. I know we can microwave them. Our roads/streets are horrible.
    Just think what we can accomplish. Logic dictates we rebuild our country instead of constantly giving billions to other countries. Sure help some humanitarian aide, but not support other nations as we do now. Look at all the money that went to Haiti……. Where in the hell did that go. The country is still a freakin train wreck. Who dipped their sticky hands in the pot. Common sense dictates that someone or group did. What, did administrators of the charities get 75-90% and 25-10% goes to the rebuilding or aide. WTF!!!
    WE NEED TO REBUILD NOW AND WE NEED LEADERS THAT UNDERSTAND THAT!

  • Steven Purdy

    Support IF, and ONLY IF, the “unions” would QUIT supporting our Wimp-in-Chief aka Liberal USA Wrecker, and support decent handling of the wonderful energy bounty that the USA has been blessed with. Don’t understand why we all need our collective balls broken to satisfy some idiots who think the sky is falling.

  • Sharpsguy

    IF these THIEVES in Congress would just STOP STEALING more than a HALF-BILLION DOLLARS every year and pi$$ing it away on “Pet” projects, there WOULD BE money for road repair and maintenance. But, NOOOOOOOO, they STEAL, STEAL, then, when “We, The People” don’t hold their feet to the fire, they conclude that we don’t care what they do with OUR MONEY! Hell, they’ve continuously STOLEN hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars from the Social Security “Trust” Fund since Lyndon John began his “Great Society” program back in the 60′s, so why not STEAL, STEAL, STEAL more, more, more? THEY MUST BE THROWN OUT ON THEIR COLLECTIVE A$$ES this November! Clean house! THIS time, we really NEED Hope and Change, and it sure as Hell hasn’t come from THIS Congress! PUKE pies, all of them! WORTHLESS Criminals, at very best!

  • ERB

    In 2013, about 134.51 billion gallons1 (or 3.20 billion barrels) of gasoline were consumed2 in the United States, a daily average of about 368.51 million gallons (or 8.77 million barrels). This was about 6% less than the record high of about 142.35 billion gallons (or 3.39 billion barrels) consumed in 2007.
    Now that’s a whole lot cash for the fund at 18.4 cents a gallon.
    I’m not willing to pay a penny more!

  • search9286

    Isn’t this what the 700+billion stimulus bill was supposed to take care of?

    • Chris Hogan

      No that was an investment in “green” companies that are now all bankrupt. BTW, it ended up being a lot closer to a trillion $$$$. Just proving you can’t throw money at a problem and get results.

  • One2Stupid

    I want an accounting from the government first. What percentage of the gas tax is actually spent on roads and bridges? How much goes to buses, trains, bike lanes and road art? How much is wasted due the Bacon-Davis Act where paying union scale is required on federal projects even to non-union employees. And of course, what other secret projects (pork) are paid for by this tax.

  • Uncle_Bill

    We don’t need more highways … we need more rail transit .. get the heavy trucks off the roads as they don’t pay their fair share for use. For those who are so anti-tax, do you REALLY think that construction unions will NOT find a means to raise fees that affect the consumer? As far as those who oppose the EPA … would you rather live in China? I hear the air is great for kids’ lungs. Oh, don’t forget, 25% of the air pollution in LA comes from China. Chinese pollution is in the Greenland ice sheet. For those who fear Big Government (and I am as I watch the “security” agencies gut the Fourth Amendment, it’s the old argument (you can pay me now or you can pay me later, etc.).

    • Bisley

      You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. The average long-haul truck burns about 30 thousand gallons of tax-paid (both state and federal) fuel a year, plus a $550 federal highway use tax (that must be paid, before you can buy license for a truck), and a few thousand more, if you count the license fee–altogether usually totaling between $10,000 and $15,000 a year in road taxes (depending on mileage in high-tax and low-tax states). Contrast this with the average car that burns around 400 gallons of gas, for maybe $120-$200 in tax.

      Rail is only practical for operations that have the space and money to build a rail spur into their facility, and have a sufficient quantity of material moving in and out to make it cost-effective. Installations of this sort already have rail service, but depend on trucks for anything that has to be somewhere in a matter of days, rather than weeks, or goes to a place that doesn’t have a rail spur.

      • Uncle_Bill

        Bisley (and others: let’s avoid derogatory statements … it’s useless flame mail, it achieves very littlle). Truckers “appear to pay” huge, huge taxes and appear to pay high, high fuel bills, and so on. BUT do the truckers REALLY pay all that money. NO! It is a pass-through to the consumer! Many years ago I read that if rail brought green produce into New England, food prices here would fall 10%. Blame that on 100+ yr old rail tunnels, ripped up track, burned out bridges (Poughkeepsie for one), the highway lobby, and American consumes who want to live in the burbs.
        Before I give you some links, just go park or walk underneath an interstate highway bridge for 15 to 30 minutes. I believe it is not too difficult to differentiate between trucks and cars. The next post will have some links.

        • Uncle_Bill

          Check http://www.vabike.org/vehicle-weight-and-road-damage/. It is a bike site but it refers to other studies. According to a GAO study, Excessive Truck Weight: An Expensive Burden We Can No Longer Afford, road damage from one 18-wheeler is equivalent to 9600 cars (p.23 of study, p.36 of PDF).

          The study assumed a fully loaded tractor-trailer at 80,000 pounds, and a typical passenger car at 4,000 pounds. That’s 20 times difference in weight, but the wear and tear caused by the truck is exponentially greater.

          Why? Multiply 9,600 cars times 4,000 pounds and get 38,400,000 pounds. The ratio of the total cars’ weight to trucks is 38.4*10 (fifth) divided by 80*10 (third). That’s a ratio of 48 to 1. One truck does the damage of 48 cars by weight
          But I do agree with a lot of folks here who see the waste in these boondoggles. Railroads, and before and after them canals are good examples.
          Bottom line:we need more open “bone-crushing’ debate about the US’s “transportation model”.

        • Bisley

          Derogatory statements are the only practical response when dealing with morons, since facts, or reason have no influence on them. A reasonable argument elicits a more agreeable reply. In short, if you make idiotic posts, you are assumed to be an idiot.

          • Uncle_Bill

            Are you the fascist in charge who determines right vs wrong, genius vs moron? If, so I would certainly enjoy knowing your background, references. BTW, did you even bother to look at just ONE of many links I could send you?

  • Bisley

    The federal government needs to get out of the road-building business. Money from the highway trust fund is being spent to subsidize subways, buses, taxis, rail systems, bicycle paths, and countless other non-highway projects. The federal fuel tax should be ended, giving the states the opportunity to raise their fuel taxes enough to build and maintain their own roads, without federal involvement. Total state control would also have the benefit of escaping the Davis-Bacon Act (requiring every project involving federal funding to pay “prevailing wage” [union scale]), allowing the use of non-union contractors, and cutting labor expense.

  • jinkyjoy

    We don’t need anymore taxes, we need a big bunch of garbage cut from government and a lot of unnecessary jobs cut out. It’s past time!!!

  • http://none.com Jack Everett

    One union is not the majority of citizens. We don’t need more taxes we need to know where the highway trust fund disappeared to. Their has not been any infrastructure repairs done in more than a decade. This tax and spend and borrowing and spend has to stop.

    This summer vacation crap is a joke. Congress has been on vacation since Obama was elected.

    • Chris Hogan

      So has obama…..except for a few of his pet projects that have bankrupted the country. You know, the economic stimulus that went to a bunch of now bankrupt green companies, obamacare, golfing, and that nearly $100 million family vacation to the homeland trip to Africa. They are all at fault, and it goes back to the exact second the Fed. decided to operate budgets in the red and never quit doing it.
      I would be willing to bet that the poll was only handed out to union members and road construction companies and their families. Also that they were not given the option of “or do you think they should spend the money on what it was intended for in the first place.” I hate polls!

  • Coffee Fiend

    The argument between the liberty school and the collectivists is not one about improvement, but rather about the best ways of doing so.

  • Lobo VNVMC

    Congress needs to put the money back that they voted to put in the general fund several years ago. All of the trust funds were raped by Congress that is why they are running out of funds.

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