Monthly Archive for July, 2011

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Off-Road Equipment Manufacturers Meet With Gov. Romney To Discuss Strengthening The Economy, Exports

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and leaders of four equipment manufacturing companies today joined former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at a manufacturing plant in Pataskala, Ohio to discuss ways to strengthen U.S. manufacturing in the global marketplace.

AEM member company business leaders from Ohio and Iowa shared their perspectives with Gov. Romney about the need for new manufacturing policies that would rebuild deteriorating roads, bridges and highways and help American manufacturers and farmers export their products to new and expanded markets around the world.

Gov. Romney spoke to employees at Screen Machine Industries (SMI), an American, family-owned manufacturing business that produces heavy equipment. SMI is a member of AEM and participates in the I Make America campaign to support manufacturing jobs.

In its effort to support America’s manufacturing sector, AEM launched a national grassroots campaign in 2010 called I Make America to give a voice to the men and women across the nation who work in manufacturing and agriculture. Thousands of people across the country have signed up to support this campaign, recognizing that infrastructure investment and export-friendly policies are two fundamental ways to generate economic growth and create jobs.

AEM member company leaders who participated with AEM in the discussion with Gov. Romney included:

  • Steve Cohen, President, Screen Machine Industries, Inc., Pataskala, Ohio – www.screenmachine.com
  • Dave Burdakin, President & CEO, Paladin, Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Akron, Ohio – www.paladinbrands.com
  • Mike Haberman, President, Gradall Industries Inc., New Philadelphia, Ohio – www.gradall.com
  • Ed Turner, President and CEO, Allied Construction Products LLC, Cleveland, Ohio – www.alliedcp.com

AEM PRESENTS REVENUE-NEUTRAL SOLUTION TO REBUILDING AMERICA’S INTERSTATES

Multi-year Highway Bill can be Fully-Funded without Raising the Gas Tax

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) today released a revenue-neutral solution to rebuild and modernize America’s interstates without raising the gas tax. The proposal, advanced by AEM in an ongoing effort to reinvigorate the stalled debate on infrastructure investment financing, was developed by Jack Schenendorf, former vice chairman of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, of Counsel, Covington & Burling LLP, and Elizabeth Bell, Associate, Covington & Burling LLP.

As the deadline looms to reauthorize U.S. surface transportation policy by September 30, Schenendorf unveiled two alternative solutions to supplement current federal transportation revenues in a policy paper published by The Bureau of National Affairs.  Recognizing that the current highway trust fund is an inadequate source of federal funding to rebuild and modernize the nation’s deteriorating roads, bridges and highways, Schenendorf’s solutions will create an alternative funding source for America’s aging and congested interstate highways that are a growing barrier to U.S. economic growth.

“Our manufacturers and farmers are at a competitive disadvantage with other countries because of aging infrastructure that has suffered decades of neglect. We risk losing manufacturing and agriculture jobs to overseas markets if Congress further reduces highway spending, as has been proposed in the House. With no political will by policy makers to increase the gas tax, we must look for other practical solutions that ensure the nation’s transportation needs are satisfied,” said Dennis Slater, President of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

“Both Congress and the President have recognized the severity of our infrastructure problem and the need to fix it. But neither has been able to come up with a funding solution to pay for the increased investments. This proposal will provide the critically needed funding to modernize our surface transportation system, and allows Congress to increase transportation investment without raising motor fuel or diesel fuel taxes and with no increase to the debt or the deficit,” asserted Schenendorf.

The revenue-neutral transportation funding proposal offers two alternative solutions: a Federal Interstate User Fee (FIUF) and a Federal Motor Carrier User Fee (FMCUF).

How it works:

Federal Interstate User Fee. 

  • All vehicles using the Interstate Highway System would pay a user fee.  The fee would be collected through an “EZ Pass”-like system, which would be entirely electronic.  There would be no tollbooths.
    • All of the revenues generated by the fee would be deposited in a special account in the Highway Trust Fund.  The revenues would be used exclusively to restore the Interstate Highway System to a state of good repair and to expand and modernize it to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
    • The fee structure would be set annually, by an independent group of experts, at the level necessary to reimburse the states in accordance with policies established by Congress for the federal share of these improvements.  No higher, no lower.  The fees would not be designed to control the level of traffic or to “price out” drivers from using the Interstate.
    • This user fee would restore the Interstate Highway System to being the crown jewel of the U.S. surface transportation network and the envy of the world.

Federal Motor Carrier User Fee. 

  • This fee would be imposed on commercial trucks’ usage of all roads and would be collected through GPS-like systems currently being used by many trucking companies.
    • Importantly, trucks would not be double-charged for miles traveled on the Interstate; rather, those miles would be recorded through the Federal Interstate User Fee program.
    • All of the revenues generated by this fee would be deposited in a special account in the Highway Trust Fund and would be used exclusively for freight-related improvements.
    • The same independent entity discussed above would set the fee structure at the level necessary to reimburse the states in accordance with policies established by Congress for the Federal share of these freight improvements.  No higher, no lower.
    • This user fee would play a critical role in improving the movement of freight, thereby helping to make U.S. businesses more competitive in today’s global marketplace.

To read the full text of Schenendorf’s paper and to learn more about this innovative funding solution, please click here.

Executive Summary

MODERNIZING THE U.S. SURFACE TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM

Inaction Must Not Be An Option

The problem

Study after study, report after report, and Commission after Commission have documented something that almost every American knows—our highways and bridges are aging and becoming more and more congested with every passing day.

·            Over the last 30 years, vehicle miles traveled doubled, but the total number of highway lanes grew only 4.4 percent.

·            The Federal Highway Administration reports that over half of the vehicle miles traveled on the federal highway system occur on roads that are in less than good condition.

·            In urban areas alone, congestion resulted in 4.8 billion hours of traveler delays and consumption of an additional 3.9 billion gallons of fuel in 2009.

We should not be surprised to find ourselves sitting in traffic on roads not as safe or well-maintained as they should be. We have been underinvesting in transportation for decades.

Both Congress and the President recognize the severity of the problem and want to fix it. Unfortunately, they have not been able to come up with a way to pay for the increased investment that is needed.            Over the next few years, it looks as though funding will actually go down, or at best hold steady, making the problem even worse than it is today. If nothing changes, revenues generated by current law will only provide enough resources to cover less than half of what is needed to merely maintain our highways through 2035.

We must not let this happen. We must start modernizing our surface transportation network now.

A Way Forward

One way to move forward would be to employ two targeted user fees to supplement, not replace, existing Federal transportation revenue sources. Congress could establish a Federal Interstate User Fee to modernize the Interstate Highway System and a Federal Motor Carrier User Fee to improve freight facilities that benefit the freight industry. Here’s how they would work:

1.            Federal Interstate User Fee.

· All vehicles using the Interstate Highway System would pay a user fee. The fee would be collected through an “EZ Pass”-like system, which would be entirely electronic. There would be no tollbooths.

· All of the revenues generated by the fee would be deposited in a special account in the Highway Trust Fund. The revenues would be used exclusively to restore the Interstate Highway System to a state of good repair and to expand and modernize it to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

· The fee structure would be set annually, by an independent group of experts, at the level necessary to reimburse the states in accordance with policies established by Congress for the federal share of these improvements. No higher, no lower. The fees would not be designed to control the level of traffic or to “price out” drivers from using the Interstate.

· This user fee would restore the Interstate Highway System to being the crown jewel of the U.S. surface transportation network and the envy of the world.

2.            Federal Motor Carrier User Fee.

· This fee would be imposed on commercial trucks’ usage of all roads and would be collected through GPS-like systems currently being used by many trucking companies.

· Importantly, trucks would not be double-charged for miles traveled on the Interstate; rather, those miles would be recorded through the Federal Interstate User Fee program.

MODERNIZING THE U.S. SURFACE TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM

· All of the revenues generated by this fee would be deposited in a special account in the Highway Trust Fund and would be used exclusively for freight-related improvements.

· The same independent entity discussed above would set the fee structure at the level necessary to reimburse the states in accordance with policies established by Congress for the Federal share of these freight improvements. No higher, no lower.

· This user fee would play a critical role in improving the movement of freight, thereby helping to make U.S. businesses more competitive in today’s global marketplace.

Base Program

Federal-aid eligible highways—including the Interstate System—constitute about 985,000 miles of road out of a U.S. total of 4 million miles. This 25% of our roads carries 85% of all vehicle miles traveled. Existing HTF revenues would no longer have to be used on Interstate projects since the new Federal Interstate User Fee would fund all Interstate projects. Similarly, freight projects funded by the Federal Motor Carrier User Fee would no longer have to be funded from existing HTF revenues.

Together, these two programs would take pressure off of the HTF and allow its existing revenues to be used to upgrade the remaining Federal-aid highways, including the major non-Interstate highways on the National Highway System. To help in meeting these needs, Congress should, if possible, index the existing motor fuel taxes for inflation.

Advantages

No Tax Increase. The FIUF and the FMCUF are user fees. They would allow Congress to increase transportation investment without raising motor fuel or diesel fuel taxes.

Fair To Users. By dedicating all of the revenues generated by the user fees to benefit the users preserving and modernizing the Interstate System or financing freight-related projects, these mechanisms would establish a strong link between the user and purpose for which the fees are used. Moreover, the fees would be set at the minimum level necessary to pay for the improvements. No debt service payments. No diversion. No demand management fees to “price out” drivers from using the Interstate. And since the FIUF and FMCUF revenues would be supporting a pay-as-you-go system, users would only pay for work and improvements as they are completed.

National Policy. The Interstate Highway System is a national system governed by national policies and standards. A FIUF is consistent with that by establishing a national user fee mechanism for the entire Interstate. This will help to ensure that the system does not become balkanized by disparate state and local pricing policies.

No Increase In The Deficit Or Debt. Revenues generated by the user fees would pay the full cost of the increased federal investment. Therefore, increased investment would not increase the federal deficit or the federal debt. In fact, over the long term it would help reduce the deficit and debt by promoting greater economic growth.

Modernizes Federal Financing Mechanisms. The FIUF and the FMCUF would be a much-needed step towards post- gas tax revenue strategies.

Improves The Entire Federal-Aid Highway Network. The revenue generated by the FIUF would pay for preservation and modernization of the Interstate Highway System. The FMCUF-generated revenue would be used to pay for major freight improvements. This would free up existing HTF resources to pay for improvements to the non-Interstate portion of the National Highway System and the remaining Federal-aid highways. The entire national network would benefit.

Improves Competitiveness and Creates Jobs. Modernizing our national transportation network will make U.S. businesses more competitive. Over the long term, this will strengthen the U.S. economy and lead to greater private sector job growth. Another benefit would accrue in the short-term—greater economic activity and considerable job growth in the construction and construction-related industries.

To see entire report click here

http://www.aem.org/PDF/2011-07-27_SchenendorfModernizingSystem.pdf

 

Editors note: When is a good time? It wasn’t a good time 2 years ago when the bill expired and hasn’t been every time the extension expired. Never is a good time and yet if our representatives in Washington were seriously interested in strengthening the economy, reducing unemployment and getting our country going again they would have passed the original proposal two years ago and we would be doing a lot better on all levels. Can one bill have that much of an impact on our economy? It sure can…

From Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood’s Blog Fast Lane: Congress: pass a clean FAA bill

 

Congress continues to ignore the FAA, 
more critical work stops, more workers are sent home…

Yesterday, in response to Congress’s failure to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, I wrote that dozens of stop work orders had been issued for construction on major projects to build and modernize air traffic control towers and other airport and aviation infrastructure across the country.

Twenty-four hours later, Congress still has not fulfilled a basic responsibility to keep crucial operations at the FAA running.  Without 4,000 FAA employees on the job, the list of aviation construction projects unable to proceed is growing by the day.  And the number of construction workers sent home from their jobs on these projects is rising.

We are talking now about hundreds of millions of dollars in construction projects, research, and testing–all shut down.  And we are talking about thousands of workers–public and private–who were not paid yesterday, will not get paid today, and will not get paid tomorrow.  They will not get paid at all unless Congress acts.

In Traverse City, Michigan, airport manager Kevin Klein watched the idle job-site where workers were slated to install the “cab” section of the Cherry Capital Airport’s new control tower.  “It’s very frustrating,” Klein said. “It puts about 50 construction workers out of a job. But about 200 people are involved in this some way–designers, engineers, vendors, delivery folks. It’s going to be a hardship on them.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this is no way to run the world’s best aviation system.

Airports need runway status lights.  Runway and taxiway lights help pilots know when it is safe to enter or cross a runway and when it is safe to take off.  Now, $250 million in work to design and install these lights at airports around the country is on indefinite hold.  At Phoenix Sky Harbor, Seattle-Tacoma, Houston George Bush Intercontinental, New York-LaGuardia, Washington-Dulles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Las Vegas McCarran international airports, this critical work can’t move forward.

In earthquake-prone areas, airports need strengthened air traffic control towers.  Now, $20 million in engineering and construction work to help protect these towers has been halted.

“It’s depressing,” said Sasha Milosavljevich a contractor on a new 352-foot control tower at McCarran. “You got a site that was flourishing with activity, and there’s nothing going on right now.”

That’s just the beginning of the airport improvements the FAA supports every day in every state.  And, make no mistake, when you’re talking about infrastructure and complex facilities, every day that you’re not moving forward, you are losing the battle against weather, against wear and tear, against the pace of technological developments.

I have said over and over that the safety of the flying public will not be compromised by this situation.  But that does not mean we can afford to take this at all lightly.  As FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said, “The real world implications of Congressional inaction are serious.  The FAA cannot conduct necessary work to keep our aviation system competitive and moving forward.”

Again, I ask Congress: pass a clean FAA bill.

Airport Construction Projects Being Put On Hold

Obama administration officials say contractors have been told to stop work on airport modernization projects across the country because Congress has failed to pass legislation necessary for the work to continue.

Officials said Monday that dozens of stop-work orders have been issued for major airport modernization and update related airport projects. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called on Congress to move forward on a bill to extend the Federal Aviation Administration’s operating authority, which expired at midnight Friday.

From the Fast Lane, U.S. Department of Transportation Blog:

Because Congress failed to pass legislation giving the Federal Aviation Administration the necessary operating authority, FAA employees have been furloughed, construction workers have been sent home from their jobs, and communities are being hurt.

Dozens of stop work orders have been issued for construction on major projects to build and modernize air traffic control towers and other airport and aviation infrastructure across the country.

Already this morning, Paul Scariano, Inc., the contractor on a tower demolition project at La Guardia Airport, had to turn away 40 workers. “It wasn’t easy telling them we’ve been shut down because of a fiscal situation in Washington,” said supervisor Lucca Toscano.  “Some of these guys just got back to work after a long time, and their benefits have all expired.  So for them this is like running into a brick wall, and they’re asking me, ‘How do we explain this to our families?’  I don’t know what to say to them.”

In the meantime, Toscano says, his company still has to pay for the equipment they’ve leased.  “That’s just money out the window,” he says.  “Then there’s the scaffolding we’ve already built and everything that is around the site; we can’t protect any of it.”

In Gulfport, Mississippi, a community still trying to rebound from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, work has been halted on the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport’s new air traffic control tower.  Construction workers, so happy to be on the job, were turned away this morning.

From Florida to Alaska and Maine to California, stop work orders are taking their toll on construction workers as well as our ability to add capacity to the nation’s aviation system.  Stopping this work does not save taxpayers money; rather, as Lucca Toscano made clear, it will add to the costs of these projects

Georgia Contractor Recognized For Helping Build Homes In Honor Of Sept. 11 Victims And Servicemen And Women

Case Honors Reames Concrete Company, Donates $1,000 to Valdosta-Lowndes County Habitat for Humanity

Case Construction Equipment announced that Reames Concrete Company, Valdosta, Ga., is the April winner of the Case Community Challenge. This program recognizes construction contractors who support their local communities with significant community service projects.

Reames Concrete was awarded for its commitment to participate in the Second Annual week-long Freedom Build in September, organized by the Valdosta-Lowndes County Habitat for Humanity. During the project, a complete home is built in memory of those who lost their lives in the September 11 attacks and for U.S. servicemen and women currently serving at home and overseas. Reames Concrete will excavate and pour the concrete foundation and driveway for this year’s Freedom Build home.

Reames Concrete Co., Valdosta, Ga., is the most recent monthly winner of the Case Community Challenge program, for its commitment to donate materials, labor and the use of construction equipment to a home-building project for the Valdosta-Lowndes County Habitat for Humanity chapter. The finished home will be similar to the home pictured here, which the chapter built in 2010.

As the April winner of the Case Community Challenge, Reames Concrete will receive a $1,000 CNH parts and service gift card to use at their preferred Case dealer. The company also qualifies as a finalist for the Case Community Challenge grand prize – one year’s free use of a Case N Series loader/backhoe. In addition, Case will make a $1,000 cash donation to the Valdosta-Lowndes County Habitat for Humanity.

“We are so proud to be involved with the Valdosta-Lowndes County Habitat for Humanity chapter,” said Trey Odom, vice president of Reames Concrete Company. “Stuart Mullis and the rest of the local Habitat for Humanity chapter’s staff are not just our neighbors; they’re our friends. We’re happy to help build these houses for the people who need them, and it’s easy to work with these people who are such great stewards of this money.”

Each month through October 2011, the Case Community Challenge will recognize a contractor whose work on a charitable project makes a positive, lasting contribution to the local community. In November, a panel of industry leaders will select a winner from the semi-finalists, who will receive one year’s free use of a new Case N Series loader/backhoe. In addition, Case will donate $5,000 to a charitable organization of the winner’s choice.

Case encourages fan voting on Facebook

Now through October, Case will award the first contractor who receives 100 votes on www.facebook.com/caseconstruction  $100 donation toward their community service.

Case invites communities and service organizations to encourage contractors to nominate their projects, by visiting www.CaseCE.com/communitychallenge and completing the entry form.

Contractors who have used construction equipment to complete a community service project begun after Jan. 1, 2010, are eligible for nomination to the Case Community Challenge program.

Case will accept nominations for the Case Community Challenge through Oct. 31, 2011. Complete program rules and information are available at www.CaseCE.com/communitychallenge.