Reduction of gas prices as a lost opportunity to increase federal gas taxes "significantly"
It is predicted that because of worldwide recession, significantly increased supplies, and Saudi Arabia's continued sale of large amounts of oil despite low prices (but also because a byproduct collected from oil production is natural gas, which is used to generate electricity and for heating and this requires a minimum production of 8 million barrels/day) as a strategy to retain market share, gasoline prices will remain low for a long time.
-- "Prices Are Down, but Saudis Keep Oil Flowing," New York Times
-- "Petro States of America," Businessweek
Image from InvestmentMine.
Now the price for oil is around $60/barrel, which is not quite half the cost compared to the same time last year.
In Europe, gas prices are very high because of massive excise taxes. The funds don't necessarily fund only transportation.
For example, the price of gasoline is almost $10/gallon in Norway--even though the country is a large producer of oil--and the revenues help fund the nation's social programs. In other European countries, the price per gallon ranges from about $5.50 to $8.00.
High gasoline prices discourage car use, encourage use of sustainable transportation, especially transit, and the use of electric vehicles--e.g., when a gallon of gas costs close to $8, electricity-fueled cars and especially trucks, despite the high cost of batteries, are still a cost effective choice.
The federal gasoline tax is about 18 cents per gallon and has been the same price for more than 20 years.
The Federal Highway Trust Fund is supposed to be generated solely by the gasoline tax. The budget is about $45 Billion, but revenues from the gas tax are short by at least $10 Billion.
-- Highway Trust Fund projections, Congressional Budget Office
Between inflation and increased costs of maintaining aging infrastructure, the expenditures should be increased to at least $60 Billion total.
-- $2.756/gallon Today's average gas price, AAA
-- $3.65/gallon, average price, Memorial Day, 2014, AAA
-- "Gas Prices Have Probably Peaked for the Year," Time Magazine
Doubling the federal gas tax, and indexing it to inflation to address future needs, maybe with an additional inflator based on a projection of ongoing increased demands for maintaining aging infrastructure would be "economically easy" now, given that gas prices look to stay comparatively for a few years.
... yes, circumstances can and will change. In the meantime, the roads aren't fixing themselves.