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8/8/2011 8:30:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Threat to End Federal Fuel Taxes Concerns Transportation Officials

By Michele Fuetsch, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the Aug. 8 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Faced with the expiration in September of federal transportation taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel, highway advocates say they are increasingly worried that the anti-tax, anti-government rancor that characterized the debt ceiling battle could endanger the nation’s transportation system.

The previous long-term surface transportation spending plan ran out two years ago, and the latest temporary extension expires Sept. 30.

Click here for this week’s editorial: ‘Beware the Next Threat.’

Without another extension, the government cannot collect fuel and other taxes that fund the Highway Trust Fund and support thousands of construction projects and safety enforcement programs across the country.

Any hope that transportation reauthorization, which Congress is set to take up next month, would escape the anti-tax mood in Washington dimmed last week when Grover Norquist, founder of the conservative anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform, announced he had moved on from the debt ceiling to transportation.

Norquist said he is launching an effort to persuade Congress to shift federal transportation planning and policymaking to the states and to eliminate federal fuel taxes. “We’re for ending it as soon as possible,” Norquist told Transport Topics.

The news that Norquist wants to dismantle the nation’s transportation funding system was met with dismay by highway advocates, including Brian Turmail, spokesman for the Associated General Contractors of America.

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