By Jim Grawe
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
4:31 AM CDT, August 31, 2011
For every gallon of gas you pump you're paying an 18.3 cent federal tax. Lose that tax and you save money. But the rubber hits the road when our streets and highways fall apart.
"Sometimes there will be some roads that will be repaired again and again and it's like, what about the gas prices?" asks motorist Angela Moore. "I think that at this point is much more important."
"One of the government's responsibilities is to take care of the infrastructure of the country so it is necessary," motorist Larry Schmitz says. "It's a tough call."
With gas prices high and a lot of people struggling, nobody is sure what to expect from the divided congress.
When we asked Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo's office for his position on renewing the tax we didn't get a clear answer. Instead, we got a written statement saying the congressman supports "changes (which) will help ensure limited resouces go to improving our highway system, not funding pet projects for appeasing union bosses." And Pompeo says, "I look forward to supporting common-sense, conservative legislation as a part of the Republican Congress' commitment to job creation and fiscal responsibility."
It's not as if all road work would suddenly come to a screaching halt. But a third of all of it in Kansas is paid for by the federal gas tax. That includes the building of roads and the maintenance of old ones--including city streets.
A renewal of the tax means no change. Letting it expire means it'll be a cheaper and likely bumpier ride.
The tax is set to expire on Sept. 30 unless Congress renews it. Lawmakers return to Washington after Labor Day.
Deputy Transportation Secretary Jerry Younger says Tuesday that Kansas had enough cash on hand in its highway program to keep existing projects going for 16 to 24 weeks. After that, the state would be forced halt work on projects, delay awarding bids for new projects or cancel them.
Many of the projects were part of a 10-year program that started in 2010. The United States has had a federal gas tax since 1932. The first tax was signed into law by President Herbert Hoover.
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