Survey Finds Support for Gas Tax Increases

May 9, 2011

Source:  ARTBA (reprinted with permission, Washington Newsline, May 9, 2011)

A Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University study released May 5 found 62 percent of respondents supported a 10- cent per gallon federal gas tax increase specifically dedicated to improving road maintenance.  Backing for a 10-cent increase dropped to below 50 percent when revenues were dedicated to transportation projects to reduce local air pollution and global warming.  The study also evaluated other infrastructure revenue generating alternatives: 45 percent or respondents approved of a 0.5 cent sales tax increase; a mileage tax adjusted by vehicle pollution levels received 36 percent; and a flat mileage tax of 1 cent per mile was supported by 22 percent. Interestingly, a generic gas tax increase of 10 cents per gallon without specific goals received only 24 percent backing. This data suggests that respondents were willing to invest so long as there are clear and identifiable infrastructure benefits.

The Mineta findings contrast with a February 2011 survey from the Rockefeller Foundation where 71 percent of respondents said “it would be unacceptable to increase the federal gas tax.” The disparity amongst these survey results, and others, reinforces the varying degrees of public understanding on transportation finance and the importance of how opinion surveys are crafted.  To view the study, click here.

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