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.