Washington’s Roadways Depend on Declining Gas Tax Revenue

September 12, 2012 at 12:13 pm 1 comment

Washington’s Roadways: Heavily Dependent Upon Gas Tax Collection

Motor fuel tax revenue, which accounts for the largest share of state transportation funding (about 46 percent in the 2011/2013 biennium), is declining.  

Without a revenue stream that can defend current and future needs for maintenance and operations, preservation, safety improvements, and congestion-relief projects for state highways and ferries, the quality of Washington’s transportation system will decline.

Between 2007 and 2023, Washington State fuel tax revenues are projected to fall by more than $5 billion.

With the exception of tolls and ferry fares, transportation tax and fee rates are set by state law and require legislative action.

The 18th amendment, approved in 1944, requires motor vehicle fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees to be used exclusively for highway purposes. The Legislature has imposed additional restriction on the use of most transportation revenue.

Increased Fuel Efficiency Leads to Lower Motor Fuel Tax Collection

Fuel economy will likely continue to improve under the federal government’s policy goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The U.S. Department of Transportation and EPA are implementing the first phase of these standards, which already improved fuel economy in 2010, and will raise fuel efficiency from 22.6 mpg (2010) to 35.5 mpg by 2016.

Improved fuel efficiency reduces air pollution, CO2 emissions, our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, and has the potential for creating new jobs around emerging technologies. It will also, however, continue to decrease state revenue from motor fuel taxes.

Entry filed under: Funding, Stewardship. Tags: .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Rosemary Siipola  |  September 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Most people are blissfully unaware, or they are just so used to “paying” at the pump that they have not factored in the total cost of operating a vehicle. We are going to have to have some sort of user fee, along with gas tax, system put in place to pay for transportation infrastructure. A combination of gas tax, tolls, and vehicle miles traveled will be necessary to maintain and preserve what we have and then modernize for the future. All types of transportation will need to be included in the mix: air, marine, rail, surface streets/roads, etc. Politically, very difficult. Will have to be tied to land use, economic development and jobs.Can be done with the right education of the public, assuming, that at some time the public can be educated to understand thsee types of things. At the present time, that’s a really big lift.

    Reply

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The Washington Transportation Plan (WTP 2030) is issued by the State Transportation Commission and serves as the state’s comprehensive and balanced transportation plan. The WTP establishes a 20-year vision for the development of the statewide transportation system, from state highways and ferries to sidewalks and bike paths, county roads, city streets, public transit, air and rail. The Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) provides a public forum for transportation policy development and has specifically established this blog to engage the general public and all other key stakeholders in a dialogue about statewide transportation priorities. The Commission encourages the sharing and discussing of information about the content and development of the WTP 2030. This is not a WSDOT blog; no comments on specific projects or traffic will be posted.

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