The U.S. House of Representatives passed a $284 billion federal highway bill last week by an overwhelming vote. The bill includes almost 4,000 earmarks, which are special projects included in the bill for the benefit of individual members of Congress. The earmarks include funding for numerous local projects that have nothing to do with interstate travel and are prime examples of pork.
Funding for the highway bill comes from the federal gas tax, which amounts to an extra 18.4 cents per gallon. The tax was enacted in 1956 to support construction of the interstate highway system. That system is now complete, and the tax has outlived its usefulness.
Only about 90 cents of every dollar Arizona consumers pay in gas taxes ends up back in this state, making Arizona a donor state. Considering that the tax is no longer necessary, and that it has a negative economic impact, President Bush should follow the example of President Reagan and veto the highway bill. It may be good for the congressional piggies, but it's bad for Arizona taxpayers.