Pump Prices versus Crumbling Roads and Bridges

By: Dr. Lynn Reaser

In his State of the State address for 2015, Governor Jerry Brown highlighted the need to address some $59 billion of neglected infrastructure in California. With gasoline prices down sharply, should the state take the opportunity to raise taxes at the pump to pay for the repair and modernization of its roads, highways, and bridges?

Californians already pay the second highest gas tax in the country (exceeded only by North Carolina) and will see greater costs this year as refiners are brought under the cap and trade system. California needs to look at more innovative means to finance its investments. Public private partnerships would appear to be a core part of the solution, involving alternative means of finance. Private investors could earn a return on the investment in exchange for assuming some of the project’s risks and responsibilities.

More efficient pricing systems need to be explored to tie those benefiting from our road transportation system to its costs. Technology can be used to identify and assess those causing more wear on roads, such as heavy trucks, to bear more of the expenses.

California is the world’s innovative center. We should be able to find a more creative solution to addressing our infrastructure needs than raising taxes at the pump.

Image Credit: www.businessinsider.com


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