RFF on the Issues
While many states continue to raise revenue for transportation infrastructure through gasoline taxes, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell recently proposed eliminating the gas tax in his state and replacing it with an increased sales tax allocated to transportation.
RFF Thomas J. Klutznick Senior Fellow and Research Director Margaret Walls agrees that the gas tax will generate even less revenue in the future due to greater fuel efficiency, alternative fuel vehicles, and changes in driver habits. She also notes that a gas tax has other limits, such as not addressing congestion issues, and suggests “mov[ing] beyond the long-standing political stalemate over increasing the gas tax to think creatively about new policy choices and funding approaches.”
Perceptions about Climate Change
According to a recent survey, the weather seems to influence American voters’ views on climate change from day to day. When interviewed on unseasonably warm days, independent voters “tend to agree with the scientific consensus regarding anthropogenic climate change. On unseasonably cool days, they tend not to.”
This week, RFF’s First Wednesday Seminar Series returns to look beyond “what people think” to “why these perceptions have formed.” Lynn Scarlett, RFF Visiting Scholar and Co-Director of the Center for the Management of Ecological Wealth, will moderate “The Media, Science, and Cognition: How We Shape Our Understanding of Environmental Issues.” Register for the event here or watch the webcast at www.rff.org/live.
Flood Insurance Program
A comprehensive aid package for Hurricane Sandy victims passed the Senate last week and was signed into law by President Obama. The $50.5 billion package is the second federal action taken to assist victims and repair damages in New York and New Jersey—the first was a $9.7 billion bill to fund flood insurance claims and extend the scope of the National Flood Insurance Program.
RFF Fellow Carolyn Kousky, along with Okmyung Bin and John Bishop of East Carolina University, examine the question of whether the National Flood Insurance Program disproportionately benefits wealthier counties. Although the authors “find no evidence that the NFIP disproportionally advantages richer counties,” they acknowledge that, “Payments may be slightly progressive because nationally speaking, riskier areas tend to be lower income despite discussions of mansions on the Florida coast.”