Virginia Editorial: Sorry saga of the gas tax

Contrary to popular belief, state and local governments own 98 percent of the nation’s highways, bridges, roads and streets.

So it is their responsibility to make sure the transportation system is updated and remains in a state of good repair.

Although “responsibility has become confused over time” due to overlapping funding and regulatory control with the federal government, the Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards points out that increased intervention by Washington “would only further encourage ‘learned helplessness’ on the part of state and local governments.”

Noting that the states have vastly different transportation needs, “it makes more sense for each state to adjust its own gas tax to fit its highway revenue needs than for the federal government to impose a single gas tax on the whole country,” Edwards added.

But states have the same problem as the federal government. They view the gas tax as an ATM to draw money from whenever they need it.