To timely finish expansion of its rail and bus rapid transit system, the metro area may want to raise additional revenue. Some have proposed increasing our RTD sales tax. This is a bad idea.
Taxes on baby diapers and water heaters should not subsidize roads and rails. Gas taxes are a nearly perfect user fee. But our state gas tax has lost a lot of its punch over the years.
The drop in gas tax purchasing power has very little to do with improved mileage or a minimal conversion to natural gas, plug in or hybrid vehicles. The gas tax hasn't had an inflation adjustment since TABOR passed in 1992. This is the longest period without an increase since creation of the gas tax in the 1920's.
A gas tax increase is long overdue. This requires a statewide vote which in turn requires a lot of hard work.
Using gas tax revenue to subsidize public transportation helps drivers by moving commuters from the roads to buses and trains. Taxing petroleum tends to divert usage from petroleum toward less polluting energy sources. As a side benefit it reduces reliance on volatile Middle East oil for which thousands of Americans have given their lives over the past ten years.
Tax gas, not diapers.