Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Extending Gas Tax Is Bad Public Policy

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Extending Gas Tax Is Bad Public Policy

Article excerpt

Byline: Stephen Joost

Any driver knows that when you see a dead-end sign, it's probably time to change direction and find a new route. The last thing you should do is hit the accelerator and race full speed ahead.

But that's what the proposal to extend the local gas tax for the next 20 years would do.

The world of transportation is changing before our eyes. How we pay for our infrastructure must change with it. To think we can simply continue business as usual, especially for 20 years, is a formula for failure.

In just the past decade, revenues from Jacksonville's "local option gas tax" have declined 20 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars even as our population and economy have grown.

Gov. Rick Scott's transportation secretary, Ananth Prasad, has repeatedly said the gas tax is unsustainable. Florida has lost billions of dollars in recent years because of declining state gas tax revenues.

Two major trends make the gas tax a dinosaur.

First, fuel-efficient cars and trucks are traveling many more miles on less gas.

Today's standard mileage is 23.6 miles per gallon.

In 2016, the fuel efficiency standard for new cars and light trucks will be 34.1 miles per gallon. In 2025, it will be 54.5 miles per gallon.

Second, more cars and trucks no longer run on gasoline alone.

The Toyota Prius used to be a novelty. Now it's mainstream.

Even more dramatic is the conversion of diesel-powered trucks to natural gas.

The average heavy truck consumes as much gasoline/diesel as 40 cars in a year.

Although these trucks are just 1 percent of all vehicles on the road, they consume 20 percent of all gasoline/diesel.

Companies with large truck fleets like UPS and FedEx are in the midst of a mass conversion to natural gas.

It's a fuel that's cheap, abundant, environmentally friendly and American-made. …

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