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Fix Highway Trust Fund: Penny Decrease Now, Index to Inflation?

Last updated on 2014.09.08

Who needs highways when I've got a horse!
Who needs highways when I've got a horse!

What?! Kristi Noem still hasn't fixed the Highway Trust Fund? What do we pay our Congresswoman for?

While Kristi's colleagues fiddle with short-term stopgaps to fill our potholes, a new study funded by the Soybean Transportation Coalition suggests that a long-term fix may rely on some tax judo: ease drivers into a long-term gasoline-tax increase with an immediate tax break.

The federal gasoline tax has hung at 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993. Back then, that would have been about an 18% tax on gasoline. Today, 18.4 cents per $3.75 gallon is about 5%.

The soybean lobby suggests knocking a penny off the gasoline tax as a political palliative but then indexing the gasoline tax to inflation to keep up with the cost of concrete, steel, and everything else we need to build and maintain roads. Their study, conducted by the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, says that inflation-indexing would make up for the lost revenue of the penny drop within four or five years. The study finds that South Dakota would take a $6.7-million hit in the first year, but we'd recoup the loss by 2019. By 2025, we'd accumulate $119 million in extra revenue ($25.9 million in 2025 alone) while paying 3.4 cents more per gallon.

Governor Daugaard will tell you that raising more money through the gasoline tax by indexing it to inflation is not a new tax or a tax increase; it's just restoring the purchasing power of the gas tax. Alas, the cut-then-index plan would extend the road budget bind for another couple years before road-building states would see any progress. Is additional fiscal pain (and rump pain, as you bounce over those potholes) really the only way we can coax Kristi and Congress into fixing the Highway Trust Fund?


  1. larry kurtz 2014.07.09

    Disaster assistance will pay for many infrastructure fixes at federal taxpayer expense: brilliant, really.

  2. larry kurtz 2014.07.09

    100 year climate events happening at greater frequency just means earth haters like Noem and Daugaard can deny a warming planet all they want then sit back to rake in the federal dough.

  3. larry kurtz 2014.07.09

    FEMA is touring the chemical toilet: disaster assistance should be contingent on EPA-mandated watershed protection and conservation compliance in the entire state.

  4. larry kurtz 2014.07.09

    Anyone believing Marty Jackley isn't already surveilling South Dakotans is an idiot.

  5. Rorschach 2014.07.09

    Indexing the federal gas tax to inflation makes sense to me. But the federal government should also refocus its funding on federal roads and bridges instead of paying for federal, state, county and city roads and bridges everywhere. Why should the federal government pay for pavement in Sioux Falls? or Denver? or everywhere else?

    If the federal government stopped raining down pennies from heaven in every corner of the country then state, county and city governments would be forced to better distinguish between needs and wants - when they have to pay for things themselves. Better financial decisions would be made when the money for local projects comes from local taxpayers (and voters) rather than free money from DC.

    A change like this would go a long way to balancing the federal government's books - especially if the policy were extended beyond highway money. Such a retrenchment would also put Republican anti-tax dogma and fiscal responsibility claims to the test. Republican officeholders everywhere who take $$ from the federal government even as they complain about the federal government and brag about their own fiscal responsibility might have to tax their own constituents at a non-subsidy level.

  6. Steve Sibson 2014.07.09

    The problem with inflation is caused by the Federal Reserve increasing the money supply. Want to fix the gas tax and other problems permanently? Get rid of the Federal Reserve system, not tie the gas tax to their hidden tax on the poor.

  7. larry kurtz 2014.07.09

    Texas is adding tolls to use highways and bridges: tribes trapped in South Dakota should exact similar fees on non-tribal members to traverse their nations.

  8. Rorschach 2014.07.09

    If tribes were paying to fix their own roads that would make sense, Larry.

  9. larry kurtz 2014.07.09

    That DD controls any disaster funds meant for tribal nations is an outrage. South Dakota: Land of Infinite Vapidity.

  10. lesliengland 2014.07.09

    did i hear a dog whistle?

  11. mike from iowa 2014.07.09

    Losing hiway funds for a couple of years would be a real incentive for wingnuts to cut welfare for the poor and needy and never restore it. Not that they need excuses to punish the poor.

  12. Jerry 2014.07.09

    Who do you think pays for fixing roads on the reservation?

  13. Jerry 2014.07.09

    If we converted damaged roads to solar highways, we would not be worried about all of this. The solar highways help prevent maintenance issues like snow removal and that sort of thing.

  14. Roger Cornelius 2014.07.09

    The Republican dominated House Ways and Means Committee unveiled their band-aid approach to replenishing the Highway Trust Fund and the tea party hated it and called it another bailout, a congressional bailout, not a President Obama bailout.
    Doesn't that sound similar to ACA? Republicans basically wrote the law and than hated it and wouldn't support it.
    The argument of course is political, the house wants an extension until May 2014 and the senate Democrats want it until the end of the year.
    The relevance of the extension is based on the belief that Republicans will control both houses of congress in 2015 and will be able to do what they do best, destroy the Highway Trust Fund.
    Sibson, abolishing the Federal Reserve is not a solution to anything and would be problematic for our economy. Democrats and Republicans are in agreement, abolishing the Federal Reserve is off the table.
    Comments like yours show us your feel good tea party bumper sticker politics, which of course is not ever a solution.

  15. Roger Cornelius 2014.07.09

    Maintaining roads on the reservation is the responsibility of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the 'road department' are typically top heavy in bureaucracy and seriously underfunded year after year. Road departments on the reservation are perhaps one of the most over funded and yet underfunded departments of the BIA.
    For most reservations that have state or federal highway systems running through them, the state is responsible for maintenance and usually state road departments located on the reservation.
    Notice that I said the state and BIA are responsible for maintenance of roads, seldom do see any road improvements on the reservation.

  16. Jerry 2014.07.09

    Roger the reason there is no real road improvements is because there is no money. Well, there is money $450,000,000.00 for the tribes, but here is the list for the year.

    When you slice and dice, it is pretty much a band aid considering how many slices of that pie will be allocated . That is the point of Cory's post too in a way I think. The gas tax is a joke that is outdated and will not carry the load needed to fund our complete infrastructure any better than they do the reservation highways. The site does kind of give you an idea of why dopes like NOem need to get off their high horse (pun intended) and go to work for the American people, all of us.

  17. rocky cherry 2014.07.09

    God lord. The only way you can increase gas tax revenues is by cutting the gas tax. When will you liberals learn? If you set the gas tax at zero, you will have all the money you need for roads.

    Also, if we go to the gold standard, we will destroy the power of the federal reserve and Obummer will not be able to bring millions of muslim communists across the border on roads that only Americans should use. Except bike riders.

  18. Jerry 2014.07.09

    Wow rocky cherry, your logic is way out there dude. Muslim communists, new one. You must mean Ted Cruz and company coming across from Canada. Or Muslim communists coming from Mexico, who would've thunk it.

  19. JeniW 2014.07.09

    Rocky, if that is true, why hasn't the gas tax in SD been reduced or eliminated? SD has been ruled primarily by conservatives for at least 30 years.

    The state government will not even consider reducing the tax on food.

    SD state government obtains it revenue from taxing everything, and federal welfare. (federal welfare meaning the state getting more money than what is paid to the feds., and to pay for services that it should support itself --- such as Mt. Rushmore.)

  20. Roger Cornelius 2014.07.09

    It takes a great amount strength to ignore dingbats, I'll try.

    The highway trust fund doesn't appear to be a trust fund at all. Congress is talking about having to replenish the trust fund, but I have never heard of a trust fund having to be funded or replenished. When money or property is put in trust it supposedly is protected and income derived from interest or profits. Somehow Kristi and her cohorts have taken the "trust" out of trust fund.
    The point is that Republicans and their tea party have crea manufactured another fake crisis and have disregarded the public's need for safe highways.

  21. mike from iowa 2014.07.09

    Trickle down gas tax economics. I think I've heard everything now. Cutting 18 cents per gallon isn't nowhwere near enough incentive to get me to drive more because my disability check doesn't increase any. Like wages for working stiffs. About a 6% raise in 30 plus years. Whoa-where do you spend all that extra cash?

  22. bearcreekbat 2014.07.09

    Good point Roger! I have difficulty ignoring dingbats because they get into what little hair I have left on my head.

    Infrastructure repairs could be a godsend to our nation by adding reasonably paying jobs and by improving our physical world. Why am I, and FDR, the only ones who believe this?

  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.07.09

    Someone had better point out to our new commenter that neither Dennis Daugaard nor the soybean lobby are liberals.

  24. Rorschach 2014.07.09

    With our new commenter on board some of you need to fine tune your sarcasm meters.

  25. Steve Sibson 2014.07.09

    "Someone had better point out to our new commenter that neither Dennis Daugaard nor the soybean lobby are liberals."

    Yes they are, the Neo-Fascist version.

  26. Steve Sibson 2014.07.09

    Obama could be a Muslim communist. Do you like him Jerry?

  27. larry kurtz 2014.07.09

    Is Mitt Romney a christian, Sib?

  28. Jerry 2014.07.09

    Here is what you need to do Mr. Sibson. Find some level work area and then reach and grab your shoulders. Pull firmly straight down. The pop that you hear will be your head coming out of your ass, then please move on to your own site and talk to yourself.

  29. Jerry 2014.07.09

    This is off topic, but shows the importance of the government taxing for the good of all. The gas tax should rise to improve the infrastructure is a no brainer. We must have a safe public systems to be able to perform what is necessary for us to survive. I am reading now about the ACA in Kentucky. Kentucky has both an expansion for Medicaid and the ACA and here is the results of where they now stand.

    The comparisons to what could be with the gas tax and what is now showing with the ACA "tax" prove without a doubt that government works. Subsidize the trust fund with a stimulus and then raise the gas tax to be able to keep the fund functioning. We could do a lot by removing the giveaways to the oil companies we do right now. We could also do a lot by removing our sitting governor as he is a huge impediment on the economy of South Dakota.

  30. rocky cherry 2014.07.09

    Exactly Sibby! If that crowd at the legislature was true conservatives, they would have impeached the Kenyan Imposter by now! It's in the 10th amendment, sheeple! Meanwhile, liberals are smuggling a million Mexican muslim commie ten-year olds across the border to build FEMA camps, while American teamsters use your gas tax money to watch the tour de france

    Also, Mormons are Christian when running against Muslim atheists who want to impose sharia law by offering health care, but not otherwise. Mitt in 2002? Not Christian, and he's keeping the good people of Taxachusetts alive (and away from heaven) through Romney care.

    In 2016? Well, Mitt will be Christian if the Dems nominate Hillary or Michelle, but not if they nominate George Wallace or Jefferson Davis

  31. Roger Cornelius 2014.07.09

    We often hear the phrase, "ignorance is bliss", dingbat just showed us it is true.

  32. Jerry 2014.07.09

    Oh noes, dinbat and Sibson are husband and wife! My goodness they are singing off the same sheet music.

  33. larry kurtz 2014.07.09

    rocky, you read like sam hurst.

  34. rocky cherry 2014.07.09

    Well, since I was born in west river and came out of the womb with a gun in my hand, I'm the husband Jerry.

  35. Jerry 2014.07.09

    You must be proud. Sounds like a match made in west river.

  36. rocky cherry 2014.07.09

    Larry, like Sam Hurst, I believe in eating field slaughtered meat - preferably bison, and nothing that's been to the packing plant. Of course, those tree-hugging big government types are always yelling things like "those are my cattle" and "stop thief". It's just hard for some of those people to undertand the god-given rights over animals on the open range that I've had for thousands of years, ever since my great grand-pappy came to to SD in 1888 to ranch

  37. Roger Cornelius 2014.07.09

    Jerry and others,
    Don't engage dingbat, he waste space and oxygen that could better be used for intelligent conversation.

    Sibson, what exactly is Muslim/Communist? Their beliefs are diametrically opposed to each other.

    Indeed, if their is a communist on this blog it is Sibson, he is the one constantly promoting his near view of Christianity as a state religion.

  38. grudznick 2014.07.09

    larry, they should wall off the state highways going through reservations (saving me money since we won't have to fix them) and put up toll booths at all the other little shit roads going into indian country. Yeah. That'll help economic development, eh?

    Even the geniuses running the Piney Ridge are smarter than that, lar.

  39. larry kurtz 2014.07.09

    2025 is the earliest the bridge over the Missouri between Ft. Pierre and its dank dark dungeon to the east can be completed, grud: how many more times do you want to cross it for free?

  40. rocky cherry 2014.07.09

    Do you people not recognize satire, even when it punches you in the face?


  41. larry kurtz 2014.07.09

    The bridge at Chamberlain bounces when heavily-loaded trucks meet and greet each other on it while ice floes boink with the crumbling pilings that hold it up: how many more times, grud?

  42. larry kurtz 2014.07.09

    DD is connected to DC by the ring through his scrotum, South Dakota: don't ever forget it.

  43. grudznick 2014.07.09

    For much longer than when we pave Takini road going through your old stomping grounds at Cherry Creek, lar.

    Put up your rez wall, and Cherry Creek just dies all that faster.

  44. Roger Cornelius 2014.07.09

    Now that the neo-confederate communist preacher has labeled Daugaard as a neo-facist, that must mean all Republicans are neo-facist.

  45. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.07.09

    Larry, this is brilliant:

    "FEMA is touring the chemical toilet: disaster assistance should be contingent on EPA-mandated watershed protection and conservation compliance in the entire state."
    Great plan.

    This is one of the more entertaining comments section. Rocky! We don't often get a real extremist, wing nut devotee. He is a skilled name caller. That's about it for his skills.

    "Let me entertain you
    Let me make you smile
    Let me do a few tricks
    Some old and then some new tricks
    I'm very versatile.
    And if you're real good
    I'll make you feel good . . ."

    Thaaaaat's Rocky! Thank you.

  46. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.07.10

    This is the first I've heard of it. From what I just read, the plan is to give the cemeteries to the people who've been caring for them. It seems reasonable to me. What about you Larry? What is your opinion of it?

  47. larry kurtz 2014.07.10

    SDGOP voted to impeach a president that the governor is not only begging for money, but whose US House member wants to deed public land seized after abrogating the Ft. Laramie Treaty to the very dividers of the colonization spoils buried in that dirt to private ownership.

    Does that not look like hubris of biblical proportions to you?

  48. mike from iowa 2014.07.10

    RC-your about as funny as a punch in the nose,and just about as subtle.

  49. Craig 2014.07.10

    I can't believe people are still unable to detect that rocky has his (I'm assuming male but could be wrong) tongue firmly planted in his cheek. It was more than obvious from his first post, but instead of laughing about it I'm seeing people start to get upset and call him names.

    Seriously? Some of you need to determine if your health plan covers the funny bone and book an appointment soon. In the meantime - with his prior posts as reference, I'd say it is safe to assume anything written by rocky is intended to be satirical in nature. Much like Stephen Colbert or the Onion.

    Now that Sibson character... that one I'm just not sure. Half the time his words seem like they could only be satire, but he seems to take himself far too seriously. Jury is still out.

  50. JeniW 2014.07.10

    Problem is Craig, we cannot see anyone's facial expression while and after typing. We also cannot hear tone of typed comments.

    All people have to do if they are writing sarcasm or satire is to include something similar t "Sarcasm Alert," or "the preceding commit is the best satire written, ever."

  51. JeniW 2014.07.10

    I meant "preceding comment..."

  52. Craig 2014.07.10

    Yes Jeni - some people (myself included) will try to include a "/s" for a sarcasm tag, and I admit sometimes it is difficult to detect, but when someone makes a claim about cutting the tax to zero and it producing more revenue it seems they are either sarcastic and poking fun at trickle down economics... or they are really bad at math.

  53. charlie5150 2014.07.10

    Keep it up RC, I'll bet the silent majority appreciated and understood your comments. Very funny and on the mark!

  54. Roger Cornelius 2014.07.10

    Generally speaking, satire is easy to detect by knowing the author that the satire is well written and can be easily discerned as such. Dingbat's comments are neither.

    His comments are more in line with the usual crap you see on Yahoo news comment sections or over on the Rounds blog.

    If dingbat wants to write satire, he needs to learn how to do so, otherwise he believes what he writes.

  55. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.07.10

    [Hey, Rocky Cherry! Have you checked your e-mail lately? Take a break from your satire and respond honestly, please.]

  56. rocky cherry 2014.07.10

    I will take a look. Sorry not to check earlier but that's my satire email address

  57. Barry Smith 2014.07.10

    Roger lighten up man. Read Rocky again , it really is pretty funny stuff. I liked the first bit about lowering the gas tax to zero in order to get the most money.

  58. lesliengland 2014.07.10

    federal and/or state titled land within the belle fouche and cheyenne rivers is likely treaty land. cemeteries removed from that chain of suspect title as pretext, sets a questionable precedent (we seem to like that word around here lately!).

    for example, the recent 300+ acre sawyer park in "Our" northern hills "that we love so much" is a nice story, but the reality is, a Lakota or other horseman could just as easily have taken out that trespassing guy in 1876 and there would not be a sawyer park to dedicate to the public, to the county (i think). recall the indians were just forced to spend $9 million on pe' sla above deerfield. that's pretty pricey per acre, and such cemeteries and parks make more land less accessible to the tribes.

  59. larry kurtz 2014.07.10

    le: exactly the wrong precedent.

  60. JeniW 2014.07.10

    Now that we know Rocky's writing style, we will know not to take him seriously.

  61. Roger Cornelius 2014.07.10

    Lighten up? I don't know how to do that when I encounter dingbats.
    If this is indeed satire, yes it is amusing.
    The fact of the matter is, that I know too many tea baggers that make those same kind or irrational comments every opportunity they get.
    Cherry's comments did not read as satire, unless you know him or you are of same mindset.

  62. Barry Smith 2014.07.10

    I here ya Roger-- You here so many stupid comments that you can only imagine must be satire only to realize at some point that the person is serious. I guess I figured that this Rocky Cherry was a jokester from that gas tax bit. I just couldn't imagine that someone could be that stupid and still be able to figure out how to get on the internet.

  63. Barry Smith 2014.07.10

    "hear" not "here"

  64. mike from iowa 2014.07.11

    Craig,when people claim cutting taxes increases tax revenues they are wingnuts. Raygun and dumbass dubya proved in spades that trickle down economics only works for the wealthiest and defies all logic,another peculiar to wingnuts brain disorder.

  65. Douglas Wiken 2014.07.11

    Rocky Cherry is just too funny for Madville. Ban Rocky Cherry, Ban Rocky Cherry. He/she shows there are both dimwits and nitwits in the audience. The emperor wears clothes after all...or not.

    The smoke from Canadian fires blurs the eyes and mind. Sibby can see it all from his view on his favorite cloud.

  66. Craig 2014.07.11

    Mike I agree that the common claims about cutting taxes to increase revenue generally comes from those in support of trickle-down economics or Reaganomics or Voodoo economics... whatever we wish to call it, but this Rocky fellow was (in my view) clearly being sarcastic when he suggested cutting the tax to zero would provide all the needed revenue. Taken in context with the rest of his post, there was no way I could believe he was being sincere.

    The opinion he was being sarcastic was solidified when he made references to "muslim communists" and "muslim atheists" all the while seemingly laughing at how ridiculous and clever he was.

    I do agree with you that tickle down economics only benefits the wealthy and that it defies logic though - no disagreement there.

  67. mike from iowa 2014.07.11

    Craig,I'll agree that RC was being sarcastic,although it wasn't patently obvious to me when he throws out names like Sibby does. Sibby's act got tiresome in a hurry and while funny to me,he seems to take hisownself quite seriously.

  68. Roger Cornelius 2014.07.12

    When sarcasm needs to be explained as such, is it still sarcasm?

Comments are closed.