The question is not whether we need better transportation infrastructure, it’s how to pay for it. And an increase to the federal gas tax should be out of the question.
Gas taxes (both those imposed federally or at the state level) are regressive. Regressive tax structures are those that, when applied uniformly, take a larger percentage of income from low earners than high earners. A progressive tax, in contrast, is one that takes a larger percentage of income from high earners than others.
The liberal-leaning Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center reports that gas taxes hit low and moderate income earners the hardest, especially those who live in rural areas and may drive long-distances for basic supplies.
The impact of this tax on the poor and middle income earners is not negligible. For the vast majority of Americans, transportation is an essential good that ensures they can get to work, take their kids to school, go to the doctor, or convene with their bodies of faith.