Alexander Laska

Washington D.C. – The Eno Center for Transportation has released a new report on the 1982 gas tax increase. “Reagan Devolution: The Real Story of the 1982 Gas Tax Increase” by Eno’s Senior Fellow Jeff Davis details the unexpected facts behind the Reagan administration’s decision to more than double the gas tax.

Now lauded as a triumph of bipartisanship, this report brings to light new documentation that shows just how closely the tax increase was intertwined with deficit politics and “New Federalism”.

Davis added, “When I began this research, I did not expect to find that so much of the internal White House justification for the 1982 gas tax increase was about deficit reduction, nor did I realize that the original proposals to ‘devolve’ or ‘turn back’ federal highway and mass transit programs to states were so closely linked to the gas tax increase.”

This report comes on the heels of yet another short-term patch for the ailing Highway Trust Fund. H.R. 2353 – passed at nearly 2:00am on Saturday, May 23, 2015 – will give Congress another 60 days to find a solution to our transportation-funding crisis.

“Transportation is not an issue that has generated significant demand for tax increases at the federal level for several decades. Jeff’s painstaking research on this topic is critical to helping us all understand the circumstances that led to the 1982 increase and bipartisan compromise”, added Eno President, Joshua Schank.

Davis added, “The lessons learned from the this report may not be able to raise the current gas tax, but they are just as valuable today as they were thirty-plus years ago.”


The Eno Center for Transportation is a neutral, non-partisan think-tank that promotes policy innovation and provides professional development opportunities across the career span of transportation professionals. For more information, please visit