Talks of Devolution are being Resurrected from the Grave
Recently, the Heritage Foundation, an American conservative think tank based in Washington, DC, announced their opposition to an increase to the federal gas tax. The Heritage Foundation specifically notes that a federal gas tax increase, “In reality, the gas tax is not a user fee, it is a dishonest ploy to raise taxes on all Americans and allow the size and scope of the federal government to grow unchecked.”
Rather than increasing the federal gas tax, the Heritage Foundation notes that the proper course of action for Congress would be devolving the federal government’s functions to state agencies, across the transportation community, which is known as “devolution.”
TIA’s president and CEO Robert Voltmann does not share in that belief. “Following our Revolutionary War, we tried to be a confederation of states with each responsible for their own roads and canals; it did not work. That is why we had a Second Continental Congress during which the Constitution was developed to, ‘Form a more perfect union’. We do not need to devolve to the 1770’s, we need Congress to step up and do their job, raise the necessary funds or cut spending elsewhere, and invest in infrastructure,” said TIA President Robert Voltmann.
The political reality is that the leadership in the House and Senate, and the White House have abandoned talks this year on a comprehensive infrastructure funding policy. Next month, the Senate EPW Committee intends to consider legislation that would reauthorize aspects of the FAST Act (the 2015 highway law). Resolving the looming insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) account, which relies on dwindling revenue from the fuel tax, will not be on the Committee’s agenda at the August 1st hearing. The Senate Finance Committee has jurisdiction over the issue of funding the HTF. As this is another political issue, the FAST Act will expire in September 2020, just before the general election, which will likely result in no action by Congress.