As states from Connecticut to California scramble to find money to fix crumbling highways, Congress once again is expected this week to put a short-term patch on the nearly insolvent federal highway trust fund.
But if past spending patterns hold up, the repairs and upgrades for the roadways whisking lawmakers around the nation's capital will enjoy generous subsidies from the rest of the 50 states, according to Transportation Department data.
For every dollar collected in federal highway gasoline taxes in fiscal 2013, the latest data available, the District of Columbia got back $8.56—the highest ratio in the country.
Most states receive more in federal highway appropriations than the fund collects every year—which is one reason it's perpetually running on empty these days. In fiscal 2013, the fund collected $31.8 billion—mostly from the federal tax on gasoline and diesel fuel, and paid out $39.7 billion. Since 1956, according to DOT data, the fund has paid out $971.7 billion—some $138 billion more than it collected.
While most states get back more than they send to Washington, the nation's capital is historically a big winner. Since 1956, it's collected $4.69 for every dollar paid in by drivers in the district. Over the same period, only Alaska, which has averaged $6.08 for every dollar paid, has fared better.
The biggest losers have been Michigan (99 cents back for every dollar paid in), Indiana, North Carolina and South Carolina (98 cents each), and Texas (95 cents on the dollar).