An often forgotten fact about the icon of the conservative movement is that President Ronald Reagan raised the gas tax and dedicated a portion of the revenues to finance public transit. President Reagan was a Republican who supported public transit. I am a supporter of President Reagan.
So much has changed since 1983. Ronald Reagan would be excommunicated in today’s GOP that tries to kill public transit at every opportunity.
On January 6, 1983, the icon of the modern conservative movement, Ronald Reagan, signed legislation to raise the gas tax for the first time in more than two decades, devoting a portion of the revenue to transit.
We’ve been reading about this moment a lot, as the current GOP leadership in the House tries to undo Reagan’s legacy by eviscerating dedicated transit funding.
In this ABC News clip, you can see that Reagan touted the measure, a five cent gas tax increase, as an economic catalyst. It would raise $5.5 billion for transportation investment and result in 320,000 new jobs, the administration said. The measure even reserved one cent per gallon for transit, all for the cost of about $30 a year for the average driver.
Sounds like a win-win, right? After some initial resistance to the idea, Reagan eventually came around to that perspective, even if some special interest groups (truckers) didn’t.
What a difference 29 years makes.