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Highway fund’s shortfall deepened by plunge in gas tax revenue

Highway fund’s shortfall deepened by plunge in gas tax revenue

Highway Trust Fund was already on it's way to another Treasury bailout, and a hoped-for fix now may be out of reach this year
By Jessica Wehrman
Posted April 14, 2020 at 4:07pm

While Congress has focused much of its coronavirus relief legislation on helping struggling airlines, state highway officials are worried about another crisis on the horizon: plummeting gas tax revenues as most Americans stay at home.

The federal government largely pays for its roads, bridges and transit through the Highway Trust Fund, supported by federal gas and diesel tax revenue. In January, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the fund, which already relies on regular infusions from general Treasury accounts to stay afloat, would run out of money in 2021. But the coronavirus — and the stay-at-home orders keeping people off the roads — may speed that timeline, say analysts.

“This will absolutely accelerate the insolvency of both the highway and mass transit accounts,” said Adie Tomer, head of the Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative at the moderate Brookings Institution. He predicts the federal government will have to once again bail out the trust fund. “It’s going to be dramatic…and that infusion is going to need to come sooner rather than later.” FULL ARTICLE

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