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By |  September 8, 2014

I’ve used this space from time to time in recent years to suggest that a large highway bill isn’t getting done because politicians in Washington simply don’t have the stomach to vote for a costly measure that would require raising the federal gas tax. A recent survey from the Associated Press and GfK Public Affairs suggests the American public doesn’t have the stomach for it, either. We seem to be content with our roads.

The poll results show that only 14 percent of Americans support the idea of raising federal gasoline taxes from their current levels of 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon of diesel fuel. The poll indicates that the idea with the largest show of support (still only 30 percent) is to turn the responsibility for paying for such projects over to state and local governments.

However, at least in Missouri, the American public showed it isn’t ready for that approach, either. The state’s voters have soundly defeated a proposed sales tax increase to raise money for the repair of roads and bridges. According to the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, the 3/4-cent increase would have brought in $540 million annually for 10 years and would have funded more than 800 highway and transportation projects around the state.

A few industry friends familiar with the Missouri proposal told me they were mostly optimistic it would pass. With about 60 percent voting no, it didn’t come close. Perhaps asking for 3/4-cent went too far.

So, mid-term elections are on the way and we will soon see a new contingent of senators and representatives in Washington. But even if this group is more ready to consider an increase in taxes to fund road building, we’re learning that perhaps their constituents are not.

About the Author:

Darren Constantino is an editor of Pit & Quarry magazine. He can be reached at dconstantino@northcoastmedia.net.

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