Former Transportation Secretary Calls for Higher Gas Tax

Ray LaHood thinks President Trump should move now to increase the federal gas tax to fund infrastructure maintenance.

November 09, 2018

WASHINGTON – After the midterm elections, President Donald Trump should strike now to forge a bipartisan transportation deal that would fix the country’s decaying airports, bridges and roads, former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said on CNBC.

The president should “persuade Republicans in the Senate that they're going to have to pass some kind of revenue-raiser,” said LaHood, who served under the Obama administration. After this week’s elections—which returned control of the House of Representatives to the Democrats but kept the Senate in Republican hands—Trump said that he and the Democrats “have a lot of things in common on infrastructure.”

LaHood pointed out that the Democrats appeared poised to approve a “pretty big, bold bill” and fund it partly by hiking the federal gasoline tax for the first time in a quarter century. The federal gas tax currently stands at 18.4 cents per gallon (24.4 cents per gallon for diesel).

“If you raise the gas tax 10 cents a gallon, you get billions of dollars. That's a very, very good start,”  said LaHood, who is now co-chair of the Building America's Future coalition. “It sends a message to the states that the federal government is serious about getting back into being a good partner. … We need to start somewhere. … You know America is one big pothole.”