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Lawmakers Consider Raising The Federal Gas Tax For Road Repairs
It has been 20 years since Congress raised the federal gasoline tax. When you fill up your tank, 18.4 cents a gallon is going toward paying for highway construction and repairs in all 50 states.
But the federal highway trust fund is running out of money fast. Lawmakers estimate highways across America, like I-35, need $2 trillion dollars in repairs. With Americans driving less and cars becoming more fuel efficient, lawmakers in both parties say it's past time for an increase.
Pete Diaz is one of seven full time delivery drivers at Freytag Florist. He makes about 200 deliveries every day.
"Our gas bill runs about $7,000 a month," his boss, Ken Freytag said. "Four years ago, that gas bill was less than $4,000 a month so we're almost double already. So, yes, it's an enormous part of our business."
Freytag has owned Freytag's Florist for nearly 40 years. He remembers when the national gas tax increased 20 years ago and it hasn't changed since.
"Now we have a crisis and they're out of money and they have to triple a tax that should have had an escalator in there for inflation," he said.
Freytag estimated an increase now would cost his business an additional $150,000 in gas every year. He's not only worried about paying for deliveries, but for his customers too.
"Flowers are a commodity, you're taking money out of people's pockets," he explained. "The middle class are going to be effected the most."
Freytag has already started researching using propane in his delivery trucks instead of gas, which is about a third less in cost. Diaz just hopes he can keep his job if it passes through Congress.
So let's break down what this means for the average driver. We pay about $96 a year in federal gas taxes. If the administration raises the highway trust fund from $34 billion to the $78 billion needed to fix and maintain roads, which could rise to about $250 a year.
The state gas tax, which lawmakers are also considering increasing to pay for Texas roads, is currently at 20 cents per gallon. That means about 40 cents for every gallon of gas you pump goes to taxes.
By Katherine Stolp