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ProSense

(116,464 posts)
Thu May 1, 2014, 12:50 AM May 2014

You May Have To Say Goodbye To Your Toll-Free Highways

You May Have To Say Goodbye To Your Toll-Free Highways

By Annie-Rose Strasser

The term “freeway” may not make sense for much longer.

To alleviate major budget woes, the Obama Administration wants to allow states to open up tolls on the interstate highway system, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx confirmed to the Washington Post on Tuesday. To that end, the administration has included a proposal to allow tolling in its transportation bill.

<...>

If tolls actually opened on the interstates, it would reverse a decades-long precedent of keeping those highways free and open to the public...“Given the situation at the federal level with the uncertainty of funding the Highway Trust Fund,” Foxx said...“We would never tell a state or a local project sponsor to toll but that optionality is increasingly becoming something that states are interested in, and we’ll consider finding ways to help when that’s an option that states want to consider.”

The federal gas tax, which feeds the Highway Trust Fund that in turn pays for highway construction, has not been raised since 1997. As cars become more efficient and use less gas, the money has begun to dry up, leaving states with no ability to complete desperately needed road repairs. The trust fund is set to be insolvent by the summer, and meanwhile the American Society of Civil Engineers has given the United States’ road infrastructure a grade of D.

The Obama administration’s transportation bill spans four years and would cost $302 billion. It offsets some of the costs through the closure of corporate tax loopholes. But it is unlikely to pass what is one of the least productive Congresses of all time. Without the money, states may be forced to suspend needed repairs on roads and bridges, or they’ll turn to public-private partnerships, like tolls, to try to make ends meet.

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/04/30/3432511/tolls-interstate/

Krugman: The Folly of Prudence
http://www.democraticunderground.com/10024890141

52 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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You May Have To Say Goodbye To Your Toll-Free Highways (Original Post) ProSense May 2014 OP
"We don't want the rif-raff whose jobs we've shipped abroad to use our commerce ChisolmTrailDem May 2014 #1
This would be a terrible, terrible mistake. NYC_SKP May 2014 #2
When did DU become against a carbon tax? Recursion May 2014 #3
Interstate highways were built with federal funds for the good of all people... NYC_SKP May 2014 #5
The Interstates are full of tollbooths in the Northeast; the economy hasn't been damaged Recursion May 2014 #7
because the northeast likes being gouged does not make it ok elsewhere nt msongs May 2014 #8
But the Northeast is tired of paying for red states' bridges Recursion May 2014 #9
LOL! Politicalboi May 2014 #25
Buy local? IronLionZion May 2014 #43
Extra pavement, extra costs for multiple routes, one for the rich, one for the poor. NYC_SKP May 2014 #11
I'm no fan of the super-lanes Recursion May 2014 #20
In all fairness Gore, Dean and Warren can afford to pay the tolls 951-Riverside May 2014 #14
Wow. The "Limousine Liberals" attack, on DU. Recursion May 2014 #18
I'm asking again for you to support your assertion that Gore and Warren and Dean each favor tolls Bluenorthwest May 2014 #47
You're simply denying that a use fee is a carbon tax Recursion May 2014 #48
You do realize that in some states (CA being one of them), Live and Learn May 2014 #29
Another option ProSense May 2014 #10
I don't see a practical difference Recursion May 2014 #12
IIRC, farmers are able to buy fuel with a different tax structure, or substantial tax refunds. NYC_SKP May 2014 #17
I know that in many states 2naSalit May 2014 #19
I think a gas tax would be better. DanTex May 2014 #38
It probably would, I agree with that Recursion May 2014 #39
I can understand the flack it's getting. DanTex May 2014 #41
We should have done it a long time ago, would have accelerated fuel mileage improvements. NYC_SKP May 2014 #13
i don't want driving more expensive, i need to use my car and i don't have a lot of extra dionysus May 2014 #23
Well, that's a fair point, that can be made against any tax Recursion May 2014 #24
"Interstate highways were built with federal funds for the good of all people..." Capt. Obvious May 2014 #44
but tolls are regressive taxes Enrique May 2014 #21
Any carbon tax or VAT is pretty regressive Recursion May 2014 #22
When did DU start confusing highway tolls with carbon taxes? FBaggins May 2014 #34
I don't think that the problem is "DU" in general. lumberjack_jeff May 2014 #37
Goodness sakes yeoman6987 May 2014 #31
We don't need no stinkin' roads! BootinUp May 2014 #4
Or rather, good-bye to the word "Freeway" kentauros May 2014 #6
The gas tax is too low. It hasn't been raised for inflation in over 20 years. n/t taught_me_patience May 2014 #15
We are paying 3.50 a gallon of gas yeoman6987 May 2014 #32
Perhaps if we weren't fighting so many wars on so many continents we could funnel some of that npk May 2014 #16
Oh, heresy! We are supposed to EMBRACE having toll roads! djean111 May 2014 #26
Floridians and Portuguese would be right at home. Hulk May 2014 #27
Floridian on a fixed income here. djean111 May 2014 #28
I understand completely Hulk May 2014 #49
Yep. Thanks for the reply! djean111 May 2014 #50
They DO realize that most food is shipped along interstates, and that companies won't eat that... Shandris May 2014 #30
Say good by to any Senator or Congress man that votes for this idiotic idea oneofthe99 May 2014 #33
It's going to be either this or an increase in the gas tax. n/t ProSense May 2014 #35
Let us raise the gas tax so that the poor whistler162 May 2014 #36
A gas tax is different ,hear me out oneofthe99 May 2014 #52
Am I now in favor of regressive taxation? NCTraveler May 2014 #40
I didn't know I had any to say goodbye to. magical thyme May 2014 #42
When the rethugs WON'T FUND ANYTHING for the people... tosh May 2014 #45
Anything to save corporations and billionaires moondust May 2014 #46
First tolls on the internet, now tolls on the highways? DJ13 May 2014 #51
 

ChisolmTrailDem

(9,463 posts)
1. "We don't want the rif-raff whose jobs we've shipped abroad to use our commerce
Thu May 1, 2014, 12:53 AM
May 2014

corridors anymore. Put up some toll gates." - The Oligarchy

Recursion

(56,582 posts)
3. When did DU become against a carbon tax?
Thu May 1, 2014, 01:18 AM
May 2014


It's been the holy grail of liberal revenue policy for decades: make driving more expensive.
 

NYC_SKP

(68,644 posts)
5. Interstate highways were built with federal funds for the good of all people...
Thu May 1, 2014, 01:29 AM
May 2014

...and the creations of great jobs.

They should remain federally funded or, if not federally funded then prohibited from becoming tollways.

Tollways are a step toward privatization, which I believe is what the RW really wants.

To me, this has nothing to do with taxing carbon; I support raising fuel taxes and penalizing gas guzzlers (or rewarding owners of gas sippers and EVs) to make up shortfalls in funding.

No tollbooths, they are dangerous and slow traffic, decrease fuel economy and slow down everything.

To be sure, make driving more expensive, but not by installing toll booths.

Recursion

(56,582 posts)
7. The Interstates are full of tollbooths in the Northeast; the economy hasn't been damaged
Thu May 1, 2014, 01:31 AM
May 2014

as far as I can see. There are already tolls on Interstates in NYC, Boston, Philly, DC... pretty much the entire BOWASH corridor.

This is really, really surprising to me that the site is so against an idea that's supported by Al Gore, Howard Dean, and Elizabeth Warren: raise money for infrastructure by making it more expensive to drive cars.

Recursion

(56,582 posts)
9. But the Northeast is tired of paying for red states' bridges
Thu May 1, 2014, 01:38 AM
May 2014

That's the same argument that's made about all taxes.

 

Politicalboi

(15,189 posts)
25. LOL!
Thu May 1, 2014, 03:09 AM
May 2014

I agree. I was charged $20.00 for driving some highway from Pa through Ohio, and that was 10 years ago. Tolls take in so much money once they start, they NEVER stop. It's bad enough gas is again over $4.00. They will use that money for pet projects along with fixing some infrastructure. And that doesn't even figure how much more trucks will have to pay. Which only means higher prices at grocery stores.

IronLionZion

(45,689 posts)
43. Buy local?
Thu May 1, 2014, 01:39 PM
May 2014

I try to as much as I can. I prefer getting stuff grown here in MD than shipped over from Nicaragua or China if possible. And I took a toll road today to get to work.

 

NYC_SKP

(68,644 posts)
11. Extra pavement, extra costs for multiple routes, one for the rich, one for the poor.
Thu May 1, 2014, 01:39 AM
May 2014

Yes, I've lived many years on both coasts, I hated the NJ and Mass turnpikes, still hate them.

There are better ways than by slowing things down.

Now I might be able to embrace a fully electronic pay as you go that doesn't slow traffic down and doesn't set up separate routes where there should only be one route for all users.

Also, the pay-for express lanes popping up in the SF Bay Area are pissing me off, and the routes east of Dulles always have.

Extra pavement to provide different routes for the rich and poor?

There are better ways.

Recursion

(56,582 posts)
20. I'm no fan of the super-lanes
Thu May 1, 2014, 02:13 AM
May 2014

I'd rather VA had just raised tolls on I-66 and sent some of the revenue to WMATA. That's what this idea would allow them to do, in fact...

 

951-Riverside

(7,234 posts)
14. In all fairness Gore, Dean and Warren can afford to pay the tolls
Thu May 1, 2014, 01:43 AM
May 2014

If you want to live in a toll booth prison where it costs an arm and leg to go anywhere, fine go live in NYC, Boston, Houston, DC. etc just keep the rest of America out of it. I don't want to be forced to pay $6 each trip to go on the highway and no I don't want to be crammed on a bus that takes forever to each my destination.

I'm sorry to come off so hot headed but people like myself are already short on cash as it is. I heard in some parts of NYC, toll is $13 cash.

 

Bluenorthwest

(45,319 posts)
47. I'm asking again for you to support your assertion that Gore and Warren and Dean each favor tolls
Thu May 1, 2014, 02:12 PM
May 2014

You seem to be playing word games in which you declare highway tolls to be a 'carbon tax' and then you claim that those three have supported a carbon tax and declare that they support this highway tax by extension.
Show your work. Show some quotes.

Recursion

(56,582 posts)
48. You're simply denying that a use fee is a carbon tax
Thu May 1, 2014, 02:15 PM
May 2014

And, sure, if you're going by that definition, then yeah: they haven't said they whether they want their carbon tax at the point of generation, purchase, or use. They're all three regressive.

Live and Learn

(12,769 posts)
29. You do realize that in some states (CA being one of them),
Thu May 1, 2014, 03:54 AM
May 2014

it is virtually impossible to get around any other way than by driving? Freeways (notice the word free) that we all pay for with tax dollars have been one of the few benefits we actually enjoy (even when moving at 10 miles per hour) from our tax dollars.

As a progressive, I have always looked askew at people that complained about taxes because of the public goods we all received from them. We are now seeing progressively less and less public goods in return. Infrastructure was a big part of our return and losing it will make many of us question why we are paying taxes.

ProSense

(116,464 posts)
10. Another option
Thu May 1, 2014, 01:39 AM
May 2014
They should remain federally funded or, if not federally funded then prohibited from becoming tollways.

Tollways are a step toward privatization, which I believe is what the RW really wants.

To be sure, make driving more expensive, but not by installing toll booths.

...is to raise the gas tax. As this is about the Highway Trust Fund, it seems any tolls would have to go into the fund. How would that work?

Recursion

(56,582 posts)
12. I don't see a practical difference
Thu May 1, 2014, 01:42 AM
May 2014

You can charge for the fuel or you can charge for the road use; I don't see a substantive difference except that this wouldn't affect agriculture as much as a straight gas tax would (that may be good or bad, depending on your perspective).

 

NYC_SKP

(68,644 posts)
17. IIRC, farmers are able to buy fuel with a different tax structure, or substantial tax refunds.
Thu May 1, 2014, 01:48 AM
May 2014

This is probably different in every state, however.

In Wisconsin, for example:

Who may receive a refund of motor vehicle fuel tax paid?

Off-Road Usage of Motor Vehicle Fuel [sec. 78.75, Wis. Stats.]

Wisconsin law provides that motor vehicle fuel is not subject to the Wisconsin motor vehicle fuel tax when it is used for off-road purposes in mobile machinery and equipment. Exceptions: It is subject to the motor vehicle fuel tax when placed into licensed motor vehicles used for off-road purposes, snowmobiles, recreational motorboats, and all-terrain vehicles (unless the ATV is registered for private use).

Farmers, construction companies, and logging operations often have off-road usage of motor vehicle fuel in non-licensed mobile machinery and equipment. Waste management, ready-mix, liquid waste (e.g., septic service), and utility companies have licensed vehicles with power take-off (PTO) units that share the same fuel supply tank used to power the vehicle. These companies can receive a refund of the motor vehicle fuel tax paid on fuel placed into the vehicles and used by PTO units. The following percentages have been approved by the department when computing the fuel tax refund attributable to PTO units:
waste management - 30%
ready-mix - 35%
liquid waste companies - 15%
boom and derrick/digger trucks - 15% if 20,000 gross vehicle weight or less
30% if greater than 20,000 GVW

Refund claims must be filed within one year of the date fuel is purchased, and must cover at least 100 gallons. To obtain a refund of the fuel tax paid on motor vehicle fuel used for off-road purposes, file Form MF-001. This form may be filed electronically through My Tax Account or by paper.

http://www.revenue.wi.gov/faqs/ise/mofuel.html


And, Federally:

Introduction

You may be eligible to claim a credit on your income tax return for the federal excise tax on certain fuels. You may also be eligible to claim a quarterly refund of the fuel taxes during the year, instead of waiting to claim a credit on your income tax return.

Whether you can claim a credit or refund depends on whether the fuel was taxed and the purpose (nontaxable use) for which you used the fuel. The nontaxable uses of fuel for which a farmer may claim a credit or refund are generally the following.

Use on a farm for farming purposes.

Off-highway business use.

Uses other than as a fuel in a propulsion engine, such as home use.

Table 14-1 presents an overview of credits and refunds that may be claimed for fuels used for the nontaxable uses listed above. See Publication 510, Excise Taxes, for more information.
Topics - This chapter discusses:

Fuels used in farming

Dyed diesel fuel and dyed kerosene

Fuels used in off-highway business use

Fuels used for household purposes

How to claim a credit or refund

Including the credit or refund in income

http://www.irs.gov/publications/p225/ch14.html

2naSalit

(87,056 posts)
19. I know that in many states
Thu May 1, 2014, 02:11 AM
May 2014

that some fuels, diesel in particular has such a tax structure for use in refrigeration units on semis (the trailers actually)... it's called "non-highway" and may also be the case for tractors, large farm equipment and the like.

DanTex

(20,709 posts)
38. I think a gas tax would be better.
Thu May 1, 2014, 11:07 AM
May 2014

It taxes the externality directly, and in so doing encourages efficiency.

Of course, there is also the externality of wear and tear on roads and bridges, so arguably my position is inconsistent, but still I tend to believe that transportation infrastructure should be paid for out of general tax revenue.

Recursion

(56,582 posts)
39. It probably would, I agree with that
Thu May 1, 2014, 11:10 AM
May 2014

And the road toll model doesn't charge based on fuel efficiency, which is a problem. OTOH as you point out, a gas tax model doesn't charge based on infrastructure depreciation. So there's problems both ways.

I'm just frankly shocked that this idea, which had been a pretty key component of liberal thought for so long -- charging drivers more -- is getting so much flack here.

DanTex

(20,709 posts)
41. I can understand the flack it's getting.
Thu May 1, 2014, 11:24 AM
May 2014

The problem is, infrastructure is crumbling due to the GOP's obstructionism and their general "starve the beast" strategy. We can't pay for infrastructure by raising taxes progressively, so instead we end up with a regressive tax on driving. In that sense this is a win for the right.

If it were up to me, I would institute a significant carbon tax, but compensate for the regressiveness by making other parts of the tax code more progressive. But that isn't going to happen with this congress.

Another thing is that toll roads are more visible and intrusive than a gas tax -- there is something symbolic about free roads, even though it is sort of equivalent.

 

NYC_SKP

(68,644 posts)
13. We should have done it a long time ago, would have accelerated fuel mileage improvements.
Thu May 1, 2014, 01:43 AM
May 2014

But you know what happened as early as the 1990's, we dropped the CAFE standards under Carter, never batted an eye again until Obama.

We still suffer the damage from that asshole move-- it led to Hummers and SUVs and everyone in a truck.

Indeed we should be paying closer to what Europe pays and should never have had a shortfall in highway funding.

And other infrastructure projects, water and gas and bridges and comm lines...

dionysus

(26,467 posts)
23. i don't want driving more expensive, i need to use my car and i don't have a lot of extra
Thu May 1, 2014, 02:34 AM
May 2014

money to spend on gas.

Recursion

(56,582 posts)
24. Well, that's a fair point, that can be made against any tax
Thu May 1, 2014, 03:08 AM
May 2014


I don't think a gas/carbon/road use tax is a hill we should die on, politically, for exactly that reason. But as a policy I think it's a good thing: make it more expensive to drive single-occupant ICE-powered vehicles.

Capt. Obvious

(9,002 posts)
44. "Interstate highways were built with federal funds for the good of all people..."
Thu May 1, 2014, 01:43 PM
May 2014

If by all people you mean the military, then yes you are correct.

Recursion

(56,582 posts)
22. Any carbon tax or VAT is pretty regressive
Thu May 1, 2014, 02:25 AM
May 2014

Because mostly people use about the same amounts of carbon no matter what they do. But it's how the Eurozone pays for its social spending, for instance.

FBaggins

(26,804 posts)
34. When did DU start confusing highway tolls with carbon taxes?
Thu May 1, 2014, 09:00 AM
May 2014

They aren't. They tax only the usage of a particular road. You can drive a gas-guzzler on a different road for free... and still have to pay for an electric vehicle if it uses the wrong road.

 

lumberjack_jeff

(33,224 posts)
37. I don't think that the problem is "DU" in general.
Thu May 1, 2014, 10:59 AM
May 2014

It's plainly stupid to say that we need tolls instead of a higher fuel tax "because carbon".

 

yeoman6987

(14,449 posts)
31. Goodness sakes
Thu May 1, 2014, 07:05 AM
May 2014

To get from Maryland to New York City round trip costs around 100 dollars between tolls among the states. I guess they want to have it cost 200 dollars to get from Maryland to New York City.

kentauros

(29,414 posts)
6. Or rather, good-bye to the word "Freeway"
Thu May 1, 2014, 01:31 AM
May 2014

because it directly references the fact that it's not a toll-way

 

yeoman6987

(14,449 posts)
32. We are paying 3.50 a gallon of gas
Thu May 1, 2014, 07:06 AM
May 2014

When the President started, it cost about 1.89.....gas costs way more then it needs to be.

npk

(3,660 posts)
16. Perhaps if we weren't fighting so many wars on so many continents we could funnel some of that
Thu May 1, 2014, 01:48 AM
May 2014

tax revenue to paying for road improvement and construction. Or maybe the wealthy 1 %ers could come up with a financial solution. Since they have managed to fuck up every other aspect of this country, perhaps they could spare a few bucks to repay the people in this country who have lived like their indentured servants for the last four decade.

 

djean111

(14,255 posts)
26. Oh, heresy! We are supposed to EMBRACE having toll roads!
Thu May 1, 2014, 03:17 AM
May 2014

I am on a fixed income. So this just means I would have to shift money from something else I need.
So - I will avoid the toll roads. Not robbing Peter to pay Paul. Which is what more toll roads will mean to a lot of people whose salaries don't keep up with shit like this.

 

Hulk

(6,699 posts)
27. Floridians and Portuguese would be right at home.
Thu May 1, 2014, 03:34 AM
May 2014

In my experience, these are two places where the citizens and guests have accepted tolls as a way to pay for "public transportation". You want to use the efficient, safe and smooth roads?....then fork up for it.

Neither place I would chose to emulate.

 

Hulk

(6,699 posts)
49. I understand completely
Thu May 1, 2014, 05:32 PM
May 2014

I avoid them too. We just traveled the roads of southern Portugal a few weeks ago, and I avoided them too. Freeways take you away from the communities and so much more. You may get there faster, but I'm not into getting anyplace fast anymore. I want to smell the roses in my senior years.

I certainly didn't mean that as any "slam" to any Floridian or Portuguese citizen. It's just the way some government chose to finance the super highways. I honestly think it's sad to have to do it that way, but there is logic to it. I just don't want to see "private entities" getting into the public domain.

I'm traveling across Italy, Austria and Germany right now. These "bombed out, destroyed countries" are light years ahead of the USA today. It's just damned sad that we don't invest in our infrastructure any longer. Thank you republican/conservative thinking. We really are doomed, on the course we are on. I honestly see little hope for any change either. Too many actually believe that nonsense that private business needs to build our nation. How short sighted, selfish and foolish.

 

Shandris

(3,447 posts)
30. They DO realize that most food is shipped along interstates, and that companies won't eat that...
Thu May 1, 2014, 04:57 AM
May 2014

...cost out of the kindness of their hearts. Right?

Ah, well. I suppose eating was one of those luxuries I shouldn't be doing quite so much.

 

whistler162

(11,155 posts)
36. Let us raise the gas tax so that the poor
Thu May 1, 2014, 10:55 AM
May 2014

and just making it can pay more to get to their low paying jobs. Instead of having those that use interstate highways pay tolls to support the roads they use.

 

oneofthe99

(712 posts)
52. A gas tax is different ,hear me out
Thu May 1, 2014, 09:00 PM
May 2014

When the price of fuel went up moaned for a while but you never heard
the majority of people saying ...that damn federal tax we have to pay on fuel...

Prices went up , the MSM and talking heads talked about it for a little while then it fizzled out.

People became accustomed to the price . We go to the pumps once, twice a week and move on with our day.


Toll booths are an entirely different matter because it's in your face every time you drive and you feel you get nothing
out of it .It's not like the price of gas because it's an exchange , you take my money and I get something.

Drivers from all walks of life hate these things (toll booths)
We could raise the gas tax and most people , not all wouldn't miss a beat.

We set up toll booths all over and every time someone pays they will blame the Democrats.

I guarantee you that and more seats will be lost than you can shake a stick too


This is a terrible idea from the Obama administration...terrible...

 

magical thyme

(14,881 posts)
42. I didn't know I had any to say goodbye to.
Thu May 1, 2014, 12:19 PM
May 2014

Tell me where they are, maybe I'll go visit and wave goodbye.

I honestly don't think I remember a time when we didn't have tollbooths.

tosh

(4,426 posts)
45. When the rethugs WON'T FUND ANYTHING for the people...
Thu May 1, 2014, 02:00 PM
May 2014

this is what must happen.

It should reflect on them!!

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