State/Local Road Spending Covered by User Fees & User Taxes (Categories Separated Out)

 
 
January 22, 2013

I've received a lot of praise for our report last week estimating the share of road expenses borne by user fees (such as tolls and other payments by users for benefits they specifically get) and gasoline taxes (a user-related tax). Most other research on the topic focus on road trust funds, but our analysis looked at how state and local road spending (and transportation spending generally) compares to what state and local governments raise in user fees and user proxies like gasoline taxes. (The difference between the two is an important one to make, as even experts commonly and mistakenly conflate gasoline taxes and user fees.)

A thoughtful comment by my former colleague Josh Barro expanded the table to include federal gasoline tax revenues, and I've gotten a request over the weekend to break apart tolls from gasoline taxes. A combined chart with all of these things is below.

Expanding tolls and indexing gasoline taxes for inflation may not be politically popular even though transportation facilities and services are highly popular. Given that transportation spending exists, states should aim to fund as much of it as possible from user-related taxes and fees. Subsidizing highway spending from general revenues creates pressure to increase income or sales taxes, which can be unfair to non-users and undermine economic growth for the state as a whole.

Table: Share of State & Local Road Spending Covered by User Taxes & User Fees, including Federal Aid Financed by the Federal Gasoline Tax, 2010

State
Share of Road Spending Covered by State/Local Tolls & User Fees
Share of Road Spending Covered by State/Local Gasoline Taxes
Subtotal: Share of Road Spending Covered by State/Local User Fees & User Taxes
Rank
Share of Road Spending Covered by Federal Aid Financed by Federal Gasoline Tax
Total, Share of Road Spending Covered by State/Local User Fees & User Taxes, Plus Federal Aid Financed by Federal Gasoline Tax
Rank
Alabama 0.4% 30.2% 30.6% 24 24.9% 55.4% 16
Alaska 3.6% 1.7% 5.2% 50 14.6% 19.9% 50
Arizona 0.9% 30.2% 31.0% 22 15.9% 47.0% 29
Arkansas 1.6% 36.7% 38.3% 12 23.2% 61.4% 7
California 3.6% 19.1% 22.7% 39 11.7% 34.4% 48
Colorado 6.6% 24.1% 30.6% 24 24.7% 55.4% 17
Connecticut 0.1% 31.1% 31.2% 21 21.9% 53.1% 22
Delaware 41.4% 17.8% 59.3% 1 20.5% 79.8% 1
Florida 14.1% 35.6% 49.7% 2 15.3% 65.0% 6
Georgia 0.8% 24.8% 25.6% 34 24.1% 49.7% 24
Hawaii 0.5% 20.6% 21.2% 42 22.9% 44.1% 36
Idaho 2.3% 23.7% 26.0% 32 23.1% 49.2% 25
Illinois 8.3% 18.4% 26.8% 30 10.8% 37.6% 43
Indiana 0.3% 27.8% 28.2% 29 28.2% 56.4% 14
Iowa 0.4% 19.0% 19.4% 46 34.4% 53.8% 20
Kansas 5.0% 24.8% 29.8% 27 17.9% 47.7% 27
Kentucky 0.3% 28.9% 29.2% 28 17.0% 46.3% 32
Louisiana 1.6% 20.3% 22.0% 40 22.8% 44.8% 35
Maine 13.8% 28.8% 42.7% 6 13.0% 55.6% 15
Maryland 11.4% 23.2% 34.6% 16 11.1% 45.8% 33
Massachusetts 15.7% 25.8% 41.5% 8 18.9% 60.4% 8
Michigan 3.2% 26.7% 29.9% 26 20.3% 50.1% 23
Minnesota 1.1% 22.5% 23.6% 36 12.8% 36.4% 45
Mississippi 0.1% 23.6% 23.6% 36 23.3% 47.0% 28
Missouri 0.3% 22.6% 22.9% 38 19.4% 42.3% 38
Montana 1.5% 22.2% 23.7% 35 29.4% 53.1% 21
Nebraska 2.5% 24.2% 26.7% 19 15.5% 42.2% 39
Nevada 0.7% 25.6% 26.4% 31 16.6% 42.9% 37
New Hampshire 22.0% 20.0% 42.0% 7 15.6% 57.6% 13
New Jersey 36.1% 13.3% 49.5% 3 10.8% 60.2% 9
New Mexico 1.1% 18.5% 19.6% 45 19.0% 38.6% 42
New York 28.7% 15.1% 43.8% 5 10.9% 54.7% 19
North Carolina 0.3% 45.8% 46.0% 4 22.2% 68.3% 4
North Dakota 1.5% 18.6% 20.0% 44 21.8% 41.8% 40
Ohio 5.0% 36.2% 41.2% 9 17.5% 58.7% 11
Oklahoma 8.5% 17.2% 25.7% 33 21.3% 47.0% 30
Oregon 2.2% 19.6% 21.8% 41 14.3% 36.1% 46
Pennsylvania 9.4% 23.6% 33.0% 18 12.3% 45.3% 34
Rhode Island 4.4% 31.3% 35.7% 15 34.2% 69.8% 2
South Carolina 4.6% 31.9% 36.5% 14 18.5% 55.0% 18
South Dakota 0.4% 16.0% 16.4% 48 21.0% 37.4% 44
Tennessee 0.1% 36.6% 36.7% 13 23.1% 59.8% 10
Texas 9.6% 29.3% 38.9% 11 19.7% 58.7% 12
Utah 1.7% 18.5% 20.2% 43 12.2% 32.4% 49
Vermont 0.3% 18.9% 19.2% 47 21.4% 40.6% 41
Virginia 4.1% 27.5% 31.5% 20 16.2% 47.7% 26
Washington 5.7% 27.8% 33.5% 17 13.3% 46.8% 31
West Virginia 7.5% 31.6% 39.1% 10 27.9% 66.9% 5
Wisconsin 3.7% 27.0% 30.7% 23 37.7% 68.5% 3
Wyoming 1.9% 3.4% 5.3% 49 29.6% 34.9% 47
District of Columbia 0.0% 4.0% 4.0% (51) 0.8% 4.8% (51)
U.S. Average 7.8% 24.3% 32.1%   18.6% 50.7%  


Source: Tax Foundation calculations from U.S. Census Bureau, State and Local Government Finance and Federal Highway Administration data.

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