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Surface Transportation and Taxation Equity Act

by Brandon Greife / /

The Honorable Scott Garrett
United States House of Representatives
2244 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 2055

Dear Representative Garrett,

     On behalf of the 362,000 members ofthe National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I write in support of your STATE (SurfaceTransportation and Taxation Equity) Act. Your legislation would allow states toopt-out of the federal surface transportation system, thereby giving them thepower to make their own infrastructure decisions, free from federal micromanagement.

     The current system of gas taxes isa bureaucratic mess that often substitutes the priorities of the federalpolitical establishment for the needs of our individual states. Currently, thefederal fuel tax is collected by the IRS, sent to Washington to be put into theHighway Trust Fund, and then redistributed to each state. This nonsensical, top-downprocess allows Washington to pick winners and losers among states. Under thefederal formula, areas such as the Pacific Northwest receive more money thanthey pay in, while states in the Midwest and South are left shortchanged. Yourbill would solve this inefficient and inequitable approach by providing statesthe option of an equal, offsetting federal fuel tax reduction for any futurestate fuel tax increase.  

     This approach will allow state andlocal planners, who better understand their areas’ transportation andinfrastructure needs, to prioritize how money will be spent. Currently, 20percent of the Highway Trust Fund is diverted to non-highway projects (oftenmass transit), thereby exacerbating the discrepancy in funding between high andlow population density states. Your bill would ensure that states can morethoroughly protect their budgets from political pressure by special intereststo spend tax dollars on projects that make no fiscal sense.

     Furthermore, the STATE Act willlimit the federal government’s ability to use the threat of withholdingtransportation funds to force states to agree to costly mandates. States mustspend millions of taxpayer dollars to comply with environmental permits, agreeto certain speed limits, and conform to antiquated labor laws, all of which needlesslydrive up the cost of transportation projects. Allowing states to substitutetheir own gas tax would prevent these bureaucratic abuses and afford them theopportunity to create a more modern, efficient, and less costly transportation system

     The Surface Transportation andTaxation Equity Act is a vital tool in ensuring taxpayer money is used tomaximize the effectiveness of our transportation system rather than greasingthe wheels for Washington’s priorities. NTU urges your colleagues tocosponsor the “STATE” Act, and any roll call votes on this legislation will be significantlyweighted in our annual Rating of Congress.

Sincerely,                                                                    

Brandon Greife
FederalGovernment Affairs Manager