Little support for gas tax hike

February 02, 2015, 5:04 PM UTC

Most Americans oppose the bipartisan proposal to raise gas taxes and index them to inflation in order to fund highway improvements and maintenance

Despite the ongoing gridlock in Congress, one area of potential compromise could center on a bipartisan proposal to increase the gas tax by 12 cents and index it to future inflation, in order to fix the huge deficits in the national highway fund. If enacted, the proposal, from Senators Bob Corker (R) and Chris Murphy (D), would be the first increase of the federal gax tax since 1993. Currently the federal gas tax stands at 18.4 cents a gallon, and with falling gas prices politicians are seeing an opportunity to help plug the $160 billion funding gap for the Highway Trust Fund over the next decade. 

YouGov's latest research shows that only a quarter of the American public actually support the proposal to increase gas taxes, while just over half (55%) oppose the plan. Even Democrats tend to oppose (41%) rather than support (36%) the plan, and among independents (61%) and Republicans (63%) opposition is widespread. 

Despite opposition to higher gas taxes, most Americans don't report that gas prices have been much of a problem for them lately. 37% of Americans say that the price of gas is 'not at all' a problem for them or their family lately, while another 38% say that it is 'not too serious' a problem. It's 'very' serious problem for 6% of Americans, and a 'somewhat' serious issue for another 19%. By comparison back in 2012 just under 80% of Americans said that gas prices were at least a 'somewhat' serious issue for their family. 

Satisfaction with local road conditions varies greatly across regions. People in the South (50%) and West (47%) are much more likely than people in the Northeast (36%) or Midwest (33%) to say that road conditions in their area are 'very' or 'somewhat' good. In the Northeast, at least, the poor condition of local roads exists alongside the highest regional level of support for increased gas taxes, but people in the Midwest are no more likely to support higher gas taxes than people in the South or West, despite being the most dissatisfied with their roads and highways. 

Full poll results can be found here.