Sioux Falls, SD (KELO AM) - Former Senator Larry Pressler said today that he would co-sponsor and vote for an immediate 12 cent per gallon increase in the gas tax to help pay for highway and road and bridge-related construction projects (the federal 18.4 cent per gallon gas tax and the 24.4 cent per gallon diesel tax has not been increased in 20 years). “I am sharply critical of Congress’ apparent decision to delay the vote until May of 2015 because lawmakers are reluctant to raise taxes in an election year,” said Pressler.
“As a fiscal conservative and a member of the Fix the Debt group, I have been a strong proponent of cutting certain expenditures such as foreign military expenditures and maintaining so many military bases overseas. But we also have to enhance revenues in some programs to have a balanced budget. We are now adding on to the national debt our highway improvement programs until next May.”
In addition to the 12 cent immediate increase, Pressler also said that he would vote for legislation that would increase the gas tax to 20 cents per gallon over a three-year period. “Our roads and bridges and culverts and highway-related infrastructure is crumbling and falling down,” said Pressler. “Congress has again ‘kicked the can down the road’ by delaying this vote until after the elections. The implication of this is it will be added to the national debt. But I am a fiscal conservative who believes in a pay as we go approach, and we have to make a major effort not only to build new roads but also to rehabilitate those we already have in existence.”
Pressler cited South Dakota homeowners who are suing the state for flooding conditions, because the federal government has not taken certain steps on culverts and road drainage. “All across the board, our whole highway, road, and transportation infrastructure is crumbling. We must act now to change that.” Pressler said that he would also vote for legislation that would make an allowance to charge electric or partial electric cars and vehicles with an odometer/ computerized test.
“I am very flexible on the formula, and I know any tax increases are politically unpopular, but we absolutely must rebuild our nation’s highways and we cannot add any more to the national debt. I am a fiscal conservative and I want to pay as we go, and there is no choice in this moment except to increase the federal gas tax.”
“I call upon all of my fellow candidates who call themselves conservative to join in this pledge to increase the gas tax substantially as soon as possible.”