With the high prices at the pump, many Americans are driving less, and that jeopardizes plans to build and repair the roads.
When the price of gas goes up, so does the amount of tax we pay per gallon in order to fix the roads, right? Pat Goss Executive Director of the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association explains, that's not at all true.
"People are under the impression that $4.00 a gallon gas means more revenue into the transportation fund, but we don't apply a percentage onto the cost of a gallon of gas to collect revenues. It is a flat fee of 32.9 cents, of which 30.0 cents goes into the transportation fund and two cents is used to pay for the clean-up of old storage tanks under ground."
The state of Wisconsin pays for transportation projects with the gas tax and registration fees. So, Goss says, when people drive less to save some cash; that really impacts the transportation fund.
"A decline in the gas tax revenue is going to have a huge impact on meeting the needs of the transportation system throughout the state."
Goss points out, whether you're driving a gas-guzzling SUV or an electric-powered vehicle, you still need a safe and efficient transportation system.
Although he applauds people who drive fuel-efficient vehicles, Goss worries about the decreasing amount of revenue generated from the gas tax. So, he says, experts will have to look for more sustainable funding sources for our roadways.
"There's no question we've got to think outside the box; everything needs to be on the table going forward here as we look at finding new ways to pay for transportation in this state and in this country."
Goss says, as an example, we could lift the ban on tollways, and charge for vehicle miles traveled.