Supporters of user-based taxes and fees argue that it is only fair that those who use a given type of infrastructure help pay for the increased spending on it. They observe that paying the federal tax on gas or diesel is one of the primary mechanisms to do that. Many also observe that in the 28 years since federal fuels taxes were increased, those taxes have lost to inflation a significant amount of their real value to pay for the wear and tear on the roads at the intended level. By at least indexing the fuel taxes to inflation going forward, they argue, their real purchasing power will not continue to decline. Supporters also argue that the number of electric vehicles now on the road means that it is high time that electric vehicle owners quit free loading on gas and diesel vehicle owners to also pay their fair share.
Senate Republicans and the Problem Solvers Caucus also argue that it makes little sense to flood state and local governments with an historic increase in infrastructure funding without streamlining the permitting process. Without permits the projects those dollars are supposed to fund cannot start. Supporters argue current processes are convoluted and often involve as many as a dozen separate agencies to obtain all the permits required to complete one infrastructure project. They also argue that the processes are overly time-consuming, often taking more than five years to complete and sometimes more than ten years. Those long permitting periods, they observe, significantly increase project costs. Senate Republicans and the PSC argue these are unnecessary cost increases. It is not about lowering environmental standards, they suggest, but simply making the process more rational and efficient in reaching decisions about whether a project meets those standards, including environmental standards. Supporters of permitting streamlining argue that other developed countries with environmental standards as high or higher than those in the U.S. typically permit projects in two years or less.
Proponents argue that streamlining permitting processes should be a part of any infrastructure package for two reasons. First, they argue, part of the goal of new funding is to rapidly put people to work by quickly ramping up infrastructure projects. That cannot be accomplished without streamlined permitting, they argue. Supporters argue that without streamlining, instead of taxpayers spending their own money in economically productive ways, that money will be sitting idle in government coffers waiting for permits rather than creating new jobs.
Second, Senate Republicans, the Problem Solvers Caucus, and others argue that permit streamlining, in effect, can help fund infrastructure. Because long and complicated permitting processes significantly increase infrastructure project costs, reducing those costs means that we can get significantly more infrastructure improvements with the same tax dollars. Those benefits include more dollars going towards jobs on the ground building and maintaining our infrastructure and fewer dollars spent on unproductive bureaucratic processes.