By Rep. Rida Cabanilla
Tom Skancke, one of the 12 commissioners appointed to serve on the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, was in town recently and was a guest on my weekly Olelo television show. The show will air on Sundays, 7:00 p.m., Channel 54, during the entire month of March. See more information here.
Mr. Skancke is from Las Vegas, Nevada and was appointed by US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to the Commission by an Act of Congress in 2005. This Commission was created to preserve and enhance the surface transportation system to meet the needs of the United States for the 21st century.
Commission members collectively represent federal, state and local governments, metropolitan planning organizations, transportation-related industries, and public interest organizations. The Commission held ten field hearings around the country to learn about regional issues and dynamics that affect America's transportation system.
The Commission released its Final Report entitled, "Transportation for Tomorrow" to Congress on Tuesday, January 15, 2008. A recommendation was made by the Commission to raise the federal fuel tax 300% by the year 2018- starting off with a 40 cent raise per gallon over the current 18.4 cents we pay now. If the State of Hawaii would pass my bill HB70 HD3 to permit tolling for the construction of new roads, then raising fuel taxes for transportation would not be necessary. US Secretary of Transportation, Ms. Mary Peters agrees with my position:
"Raising gas taxes won't improve traffic congestion, it will only perpetuate our ineffective reliance on fossil-based fuels to fund infrastructure and send more of American's hard earned money to Washington to be squandered on earmarks and special interest programs" stated Secretary Peters in a press release on January 15, 2008 regarding the Commission's Final Report. The Chair's statement went on to state that there are billions of dollars in private capital available to transportation officials that could easily be tapped to finance new projects instead of raising taxes.