Which states rely the most on motorist taxes to pay for road repairs?

Jerry used government data to examine how fuel taxes, licensing fees, and road tolls are used to fund highway repairs. Find out how your state ranks in this slide show.

Posted 8/12/22

Jerry used government data to examine how fuel taxes, licensing fees, and road tolls are used to fund highway repairs. Find out how your state ranks in this slide show.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

Which states rely the most on motorist taxes to pay for road repairs?

Jerry used government data to examine how fuel taxes, licensing fees, and road tolls are used to fund highway repairs. Find out how your state ranks in this slide show.

Posted

Road workers repairing a srteet with new hot asphalt

Sergii_Petruk // Shutterstock

Who hasn't driven down a bumpy, pothole-filled road and wondered where their taxpayer dollars are going? In 2018 alone, highway and road repairs across the U.S. totaled a whopping $145.33 billion—but that hasn't been enough to keep up with the nation's ailing transportation infrastructure. It's estimated that 1 in 5 miles of highways and major roads—along with 45,000 bridges—are in poorly maintained condition. States usually charge motorist taxes to pay for the construction and maintenance of these roads.

To determine which states depended the most on taxes for roadway maintenance projects, Jerry compiled data from local and state government finance sources, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Tax Foundation, an independent, nonprofit tax policy institute that uses figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. States that have more highway repairs needed than they have tax income to fund often turn to other additional taxes to make up the difference.

Variables like inflation and the popularity of electric cars are throwing a wrench into states' highway funding plans. In addition, newer cars, which were once reliable sources of revenue in the past, now have better fuel economy, decreasing the amount of fuel-related taxes that states can collect. Looking ahead, many federal and state legislators are exploring a vehicle miles traveled tax, according to the Tax Foundation. This alternative approach is based on the number of miles a motor vehicle user travels instead of how much they spend on fuel. Though it would bring in more revenue, it also raises alarm bells regarding taxpayers' privacy. 

The four states that managed to raise 100% for their road-related costs through charges and tolls, licensing fees, and motor fuel taxes are California, Tennessee, Montana, and Indiana. Not surprisingly, California's expenditures dwarf the others, with the Golden State spending $12 billion on roadway maintenance. Tennessee and Indiana spent about $1.6 billion for their shares of highway expenditures and Montana came in at less than $500 million.

Among all four states, the largest amount of taxpayer money came in the form of motor fuel tax revenues. Indiana sourced 78% of its infrastructure revenue from gas taxes, with Tennessee (67%), Montana (57%), and California (53%) following behind. The other funding sources include licensing revenue and tolls.

On the other side of the spectrum are the states where taxpayer money accounted for only a small share of their highway spending. These include Alaska, where only 17% of highway spending was sourced from state infrastructure revenue, and North Dakota, where it was only 29%. To make up for their shortfall, both of these states turn to revenue from severance taxes, which are levied when natural resources like oil and natural gas are extracted from the state.

When it comes to size, Wyoming taxpayers, who live in the least populated state, contributed 58%, or $409 million, to their state infrastructure expenses. By comparison, the two most populous states after California are New York and Texas. New Yorkers contributed 60%, or $13 billion, to the total cost of maintaining their roadway while Texans kicked in 74%, or $11 billion. All of these states must turn to other sources for funding, such as revenue collected from other levies or the federal government.

Below are the state infrastructure revenue and highway spending numbers for every state and Washington, D.C. Using 2018 figures from a Tax Foundation study, the following data does not include contributions to the individual states and Washington D.C. from the federal government, only those portions for which the states themselves are responsible. Those states that raised more than 100% of their highway- and road-related costs were ranked according to the percentage that exceeded the full portion raised. Any ties in the rankings are the result of rounding the figures.

#51. Washington D.C.

Highways outside of Washington D.C.

f11photo // Shutterstock


- District's highway spending in 2018: $433.2 Million
- District infrastructure tax revenues: $66.5 Million
- Amount of district's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 15%

#50. Alaska

Downtown traffic in Anchorage, Alaska

Jay Juno // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $1.05 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $180.8 Million
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 17%

#49. North Dakota

A road in Fargo, North Dakota

Guy William // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $1.15 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $335.8 Million
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 29%

#48. Vermont

Highway 89 in Vermont during autumn

SNEHIT PHOTO // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $452.6 Million
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $158.2 Million
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 35%

#47. Utah

A scenic road in Utah

TLF Images // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $1.67 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $736.7 Million
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 44%

#46. Arkansas

A highway in Little Rock, Arkansas

Kristi Blokhin // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $1.48 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $665.8 Million
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 45%

#45. Wisconsin

A road in Wisconsin

Canva


- State's highway spending in 2018: $3.94 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $1.78 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 45%

#44. Connecticut

Heavy traffic on an interstate highway in Stamford, Connecticut

barbsimages // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $1.62 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $734.9 Million
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 45%

#43. Rhode Island

A highway in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, during early morning

nsiliya // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $316.4 Million
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $147.3 Million
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 47%

#42. Nebraska

Interstate 80 as seen from the overlook at the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument Museum in Kearney, Nebraska

Sandra Foyt // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $1.32 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $618.3 Million
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 47%

#41. Minnesota

Downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, skyline and interstate highway 35W

Mark Herreid // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $4.15 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $1.96 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 47%

#40. South Dakota

Pigtail Bridge along the Needles Highway in the Black Hills of South Dakota

Paul Brady Photography // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $666.3 Million
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $315.5 Million
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 47%

#39. Alabama

Highway leading into downtown Mobile, Alabama

SunflowerMomma // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $2.10 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $1.01 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 48%

#38. Nevada

A road running through the Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas, Nevada

TFoxFoto // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $1.72 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $836.0 Million
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 49%

#37. Mississippi

Cars in a traffic jam

Krasula // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $1.23 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $623.3 Million
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 51%

#36. Louisiana

An aerial view Highway 90 in the suburbs of New Orleans, Louisiana

Trong Nguyen // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $1.40 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $768.6 Million
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 55%

#35. Iowa

I-80 highway in Iowa

FTiare // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $2.41 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $1.36 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 56%

#34. Wyoming

The road fleading rom Yellowstone National Park to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming

haveseen // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $409.8 Million
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $238.3 Million
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 58%

#33. Arizona

Loop 101 and I-17 interchange in Phoenix, Arizona

Tim Roberts Photography // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $1.90 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $1.12 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 59%

#32. New York

The FDR highway leading into numerous Manhattan skyscrapers in New York City

Sean Pavone // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $13.03 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $7.84 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 60%

#31. Virginia

Interstate 77/81 in southwest Virgina

LisaCarter // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $4.48 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $2.76 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 61%

#30. Kentucky

Richmond Road in Lexington, Kentucky

Alexey Stiop // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $1.57 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $994.1 Million
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 63%

#29. Colorado

Traffic going towards the Rocky Mountains in Denver, Colorado

Vicki L. Miller // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $2.77 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $1.78 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 64%

#28. North Carolina

Cars driving over Linn Cove Viaduct, Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina

JSvideos // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $4.64 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $2.99 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 65%

#27. Maine

A bike cyclist riding downhill along Cadillac Mountain Road in Acadia National Park, Maine

inarts // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $785.5 Million
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $513.0 Million
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 65%

#26. Kansas

A state highway in Kansas

amadeustx // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $1.30 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $852.3 Million
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 66%

 

#25. Pennsylvania

Lush farmland roads flowing around Raystown Lake, in Pennsylvania

Christian Hinkle // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $9.08 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $6.00 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 66%

#24. West Virginia

Traffic in downtown Charleston, West Virginia

Medard L Lefevre // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $846.4 Million
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $559.9 Million
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 66%

#23. Missouri

Cars and trucks driving in and out of te downtown city center of Kansas City, Missouri

Real Window Creative // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $1.56 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $1.06 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 68%

#22. Ohio

The Indiana/Ohio border where cars enter Ohio while traveling east on Interstate 70

Brian Kapp // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $4.61 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $3.16 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 69%

#21. New Hampshire

Downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Wangkun Jia // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $586.8 Million
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $419.1 Million
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 71%

#20. Illinois

The intersection of highway 290 and highway 90 in downtown Chicago

FiledIMAGE // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $6.35 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $4.59 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 72%

#19. South Carolina

A highway road in South Carolina

Kristi Blokhin // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $1.64 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $1.21 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 74%

#18. Texas

Complex highway system in San Antonio, Texas

Regan Bender // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $11.54 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $8.59 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 74%

#17. Georgia

Atlanta highway traffic

Brett Barnhill // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $3.04 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $2.29 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 75%

#16. Maryland

A highway leading into Baltimore, Maryland

Suraju Kehinde // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $3.07 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $2.35 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 76%

#15. Oregon

Oregon Coast Highway near Cannon Beach, Oregon

Gordon Montgomery // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $1.58 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $1.23 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 78%

#14. Florida

A highway leading into Miami

O.Malikoff // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $9.15 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $7.26 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 79%

#13. Massachusetts

Methuen Street at Appleton Street in Lawrence, Massachusetts

View Apart // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $2.82 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $2.24 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 79%

#12. New Mexico

A scenic road in New Mexico

Melanie Hobson // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $572.0 Million
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $460.4 Million
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 80%

#11. Michigan

Interstate highway traffic flowing around Detroit, Michigan

Real Window Creative // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $3.56 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $2.91 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 82%

#10. Oklahoma

Pony Bridge on Route 66 in Oklahoma

Nick Fox // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $1.93 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $1.59 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 82%

#9. Idaho

Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho

Inbound Horizons // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $735.0 Million
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $611.8 Million
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 83%

#8. Hawaii

A road in Maui

Nadia Borisevich // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $700.2 Million
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $588.6 Million
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 84%

#7. New Jersey

Donald Goodkind Bridge crossing over Raritan River in New Jersey

FotosForTheFuture // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $3.98 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $3.38 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 85%

#6. Delaware

Highway signs on Interstate 95 in Wilmington, Delaware

Khairil Azhar Junos // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $583.6 Million
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $515.0 Million
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 88%

#5. Washington

Seattle interstate freeways

Checubus // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $3.72 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $3.53 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 95%

#4. California

San Francisco

Mark Schwettmann // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $12.03 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $11.99 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 100%

#3. Tennessee

A road winding through Tennessee

Valerie Ann Ayres // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $1.60 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $1.61 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 100%

#2. Montana

Traffic in the downtown area of Helena, Montana

Michael Gordon // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $433.6 Million
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $446.7 Million
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 100%

#1. Indiana

Traffic near a mall in Greenwood, Indiana

Shadowspeeder // Shutterstock


- State's highway spending in 2018: $1.61 Billion
- State infrastructure tax revenues: $1.81 Billion
- Amount of state's highway spending funded by motorist taxes: 100%

This story originally appeared on Jerry and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here