Editorial – Who Should Pay for Roads?

Who should pay for roads?

Some would say the rich should pay for the roads, or farmers, or teachers, or bricklayers, or anyone but themselves. The fact is, somebody has got to pay and I believe the people who use the roads should pay for their construction and maintenance. A practical way to do that is with a per gallon tax on fuel. The more you use the roads the more fuel you burn and the more you pay. Heavier vehicles are harder on the roads and burn more fuel and therefore would pay more. The lighter vehicles are easier on the roads and they use less fuel and would pay less. All vehicles using the roads should pay the same rate per gallon. Trucks should not pay less per gallon than cars. All electric and alternative energy cars could pay a higher registration fee so that their cost is comparable with the average car of that weight.

The per gallon taxes can be adjusted regularly to cover the expenses required to maintain the roads. All funds raised through the per gallon taxes should go for building and maintaining the roads. None should go toward mass transit, trains, trolleys, etc. Those forms of transportation should find their own funding. A special non-political committee could be set up to keep the Department of Transportation from making unauthorized or unwise decisions on how to spend these funds.

The cost of registering and licensing vehicles should be determined according to the actual cost to the government of doing that. Registration and license plates should not finance road maintenance, except in the case of cars that don’t use petroleum fuel. Many people struggle each year to pay the cost of registering and licensing their vehicle and some may use the roads very little. It’s not fair to them to mark up the cost of registering and licensing their vehicle to pay for road maintenance that’s not proportionate to their use.

If all funds from a per gallon gas tax are used for roads, and not for something else, most reasonable people will not object to that method of funding our roads. The price of fuel fluctuates so irrationally that a per gallon road maintenance tax would be unnoticeable at the pump. We would all be paying for our roads as we used them.

If you agree with this, let your state representatives know about it. If you don’t agree, offer a better and fairer plan and let us all know about it. Please don’t suggest taking money away from other programs.

Ron Cooper
4491 E. Pontaluna Rd.
Fruitport, MI 49415