US senators want to increase federal gas tax

Federal gas tax increase would be first in more than two decades

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Massachusetts lawmakers raised the gas tax by three cents last year, to pay for road and bridge repairs. Now US lawmakers have been inspired to do the same.

Prepare to potentially dig even deeper into your wallet, when you pull in to fill up your car or truck. Two US senators want to follow Massachusetts’ lead by increasing the federal gas tax to supplement the nearly-empty Highway Trust Fund.

The last time federal gas and diesel taxes increased was in 1993, and states need more transportation aid than what those revenues are yielding. Americans are driving less and cars and trucks today are more fuel efficient, but the cost of construction has gone up and infrastructure continues to age.

“If they fixed roads properly the first time, they wouldn’t have to keep going back to fix them a second, third, so on and so forth,” said Marie Hines from Chicopee.

The plan would increase the 18.4 cents-a-gallon federal gas tax, and 24.4 cents-a-gallon diesel tax by 12 cents each over the next two years.. then tie them to inflation. One western Mass. milk distributor told 22News the hike could cost him customers.

“When I started in business 14 years ago, milk was $2.65 a gallon. It’s up at 5.65 a gallon. Why? Basically due to gas,” said Pasquale Romeo of Romeo & Sons Milk.

The Highway Trust Fund is expected to go broke by the end of the summer. Since 2008, Congress has repeatedly used the General Treasury to keep it afloat.

“It’s just another way for the government to make more money to try to get out of their deficit. It’s not really addressing the needs of this country right now which is jobs and bring back manufacturing,” Romeo added.

The senators pointed out fifty tax breaks expired this year, and permanently extending some of those could offset the gas tax increases.

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