Reaffirms Commitment to Forward-Thinking, State Driven Transportation Initiatives

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today criticized the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Commission’s recommendations to triple the federal gas tax from its current 18.4 cents to nearly 60 cents per gallon (with a series of five tax increases over five years) and curtail states’ ability to leverage the capital and innovation of the private sector. Adding an even harsher blow to taxpayers, the commission encouraged states to follow suit and simultaneously raise their own gas taxes at an even higher rate than the proposed federal increase. Congress must reject these recommendations.

Thankfully states have a champion in U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters who believes that Washington cannot keep doing things the same way and expect different results. She has been a strong advocate of innovation and outside-the-box thinking and has publicly disagreed with many of this commission’s recommendations.

“Tripling the federal gas tax while also insisting on a massive state gas tax increase is the wrong way to solve our transportation infrastructure challenges,” said Gov. Perry.  “Rather than take more of our money and deliver less of what we need, I suggest the federal government step aside, let states retain their dollars, and give them the freedom to solve problems at the state and local level.  Texas can find solutions to the problems our state faces much better than Washington, D.C.” 

“Raising taxes is seldom the right answer and sending more of Texans’ money to Washington, D.C. only to have it earmarked, redistributed to other states or locked into outmoded bureaucratic programs will do very little if anything to relieve congestion on Texas roads,” said Gov. Perry.

Among U.S. states, Texas is the second largest donor to the federal Highway Trust Fund and ranks 50th in rate-of-return for our federal gas tax dollar.  For every dollar sent to Washington, Texas receives back only 8 cents in federal transit program funds and only 70 cents in federal highway program funds.

“Tripling the federal gas tax while stifling states’ ability to fund improvements by engaging the private sector could be a crippling blow to our economic future and disastrous for fast growing states like Texas,” Perry said. “Washington clearly can’t meet today’s transportation demands, so why should anyone believe they can handle tomorrow’s?”

In the absence of substantive changes to the size, scope and dependability of the federal government’s support for the national transportation system, Texas and other states have sought new, innovative solutions to transportation problems.  Investing private capital in public roads and netting dollars that can be used to build more roads in that region is far better than sending more money in the form of higher taxes to Washington, D.C. through a current funding system that is clearly broken. 

Texas’ transportation needs are a challenge that grows by a thousand people every day. In the next 25 years, road usage in the state is expected to increase by more than 200 percent and our entire states population is expected to double in the next 40 years. 

“States must have the flexibility to move forward with their own solutions that are tailored to needs at the local level. Texas will not abandon the forward thinking initiatives we championed to meet our state’s current and future transportation needs,” concluded Perry. “It would be much more useful if the federal government would devote its energies to encouraging innovation, instead of stifling it.”