February 8, 2020
… A few weeks back, I wrote Tesla didn’t need another government bailout in the form of an expansion of the electric vehicle (EV) tax credit. Since then, the company announced some very impressive earnings: Tesla generated $24.6 billion in revenue in 2019 and produced a $105 million profit in the fourth quarter.
Suffice it to say, the market has found its EV winner. Any additional talk about propping up this industry with taxpayer dollars overlooks the reality of the situation.
Given the needs, shouldn’t the federal government’s transportation funding focus on repairing our deteriorating infrastructure? It was heartening to hear President Trump call on Congress to “invest in new roads, bridges, and tunnels across our land” during his State of the Union address. That message could not be timelier.
The American Society of Civil Engineers’ most recent report card gave U.S. infrastructure a D+ rating. The report covers a wide variety of infrastructure categories, from aviation to schools to ports.
Two of the report’s categories with biggest impact on your day-to-day life are roads and bridges, which earned D and C+ ratings, respectively. Structurally deficient roads and bridges go far beyond nuisance potholes – these are public safety issues that can put lives at risk.
Infrastructure investment has long been one of President Trump’s priorities, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi reiterated this week that it remains at the top of her priority list as well. It’s the rare issue in Washington that has the opportunity to unite Republicans and Democrats. But we can’t talk about investing in our transportation infrastructure without addressing funding.
Back to the gas tax. If you drive a gasoline-powered car, 18.4 cents of every gallon of gas you buy goes to the Highway Trust Fund, which the federal government uses to pay for road and bridge repair. But a growing number of vehicles on our roads, including every Tesla, enjoy a loophole that allows them to avoid paying this tax. EVs, of course, don’t use gas, and therefore don’t pay the tax.