April 5, 2017 10:40 AM, EDT

Trucking Executive Calls on Congress to Raise Fuel Taxes

Aaron P. Bernstein/Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON — Raising the federal tax on fuel and indexing it to inflation would be the most ideal approach for restoring long-term funding for big-ticket infrastructure maintenance programs, Werner Enterprises Inc. CEO Derek Leathers told a Senate panel on April 4. 

“Federal investment in the highway system is essential, and while state and local governments, as well as the private sector, must assume a degree of fiscal responsibility for its upkeep, the federal role is both indispensable and a responsibility that is delineated by the Constitution,” Leathers said in written remarks at a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing.

The trucking industry is among freight sector stakeholders calling on Congress to increase federal fuel taxes to boost the Highway Trust Fund. The fund, which relies on revenue from gasoline and diesel taxes, is projected to run out of funds in less than four years. The account is used to help pay for big-ticket projects.

The 18.4-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax and 24.4-cents-per-gallon diesel tax have remained unchanged since 1993.

Congressional transportation policymakers have rejected raising such taxes while acknowledging a need for approving a long-term infrastructure funding plan. In February, President Donald Trump told Congress to pass a $1 trillion infrastructure funding bill.

Omaha, Neb.-based Werner ranks No. 15 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.