Tag Archive for 'American Road & Transportation Builders Association'

ARTBA: House Committees Discuss Infrastructure Package, Surface Transportation Reauthorization

By Dean Franks, senior vice president, congressional relations, ARTBA

The first hearing on reauthorization of the FAST Act law, entitled “Aligning Federal Surface Transportation Policy to Meet 21st Century Needs,” took place March 13 before the House Highways & Transit subcommittee.  It covered a wide range of subjects, including how best to address the Highway Trust Fund revenue shortfall, measures to improve the project delivery process, and the use of new technologies to improve safety and congestion.FAST Act

Seven witnesses tackled questions from committee members ranging from building on the existing partnership between federal, state and local entities to workforce training and development.

The FAST Act is set to expire Sept. 30, 2020.  Reauthorization of the law could come sooner, however, with both the Trump administration and congressional Republicans calling for an updated surface transportation law to be the basis for any infrastructure package this year.

Also on March 13, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended the administration’s FY 2020 budget request at a House Ways & Means Committee hearing.  Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) began the infrastructure discussion saying, “At the top of that list is infrastructure. Repairing our aging roads and bridges and investing in a 21st-century infrastructure system is a win for everyone – workers, consumers, businesses, and the economy as a whole.”

Mnuchin defended the administration’s plans for a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package and pledged to work with Congress in a bipartisan manner.  When asked if a motor fuels tax was part of the president’s plans, Mnuchin did not dismiss the idea but also did not endorse the revenue mechanism.

Without an increase in Highway Trust Fund revenues, the next surface transportation law will require an average of $19 billion per year on top of existing user fee revenues just to maintain current levels of spending.  ARTBA staff will continue working on Capitol Hill and with the administration to ensure that any infrastructure package or FAST Act reauthorization includes a permanent, user-fee based revenue fix that will sustain adequate long-term investments in the trust fund.

State Transportation Funding Legislation Ramping Up in 2019

More information at www.transportationinvestment.org

 Legislators in 37 states have introduced 185 bills aimed at boosting transportation investment in the first two months of 2019, a new analysis finds. This number is higher than the amount of legislation the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center (ARTBA-TIAC) tracked over the same time period last year and is projected to grow as additional measures are introduced throughout the year.

Motor fuel taxes continue to be a popular method to raise new revenue. Twenty-one states have proposed increasing one or more types of motor fuel tax to generate funding for transportation improvements.

Of those 21 states, 10 included altering or creating a variable-rate tax that fluctuates based on external factors such as the Consumer Price Index, the average wholesale price of motor fuel, or other formulas.

Continuing a trend seen in recent years, many states introduced electric vehicle fees to help ensure all vehicles that create wear and tear on roads pay for their share of maintenance. Sixteen states filed legislation to implement an electric vehicle registration fee, with 10 of those states including an additional registration fee for hybrid vehicles.

Several states are also considering innovative funding solutions. Mileage-based user fee studies or pilot programs are being considered in eight states. Four states have introduced legislation to implement tolling.

Of the legislation introduced in January or February, 19 measures have advanced beyond one legislative chamber, with one bill—an electric vehicle registration fee increase in Wyoming— signed into law. Another bill in Arkansas to convert the state’s flat excise tax to a variable-rate formula based on the average wholesale price of fuel, implement new electric and hybrid motor vehicle registration fees, and utilize at least $35 million in casino revenues for transportation funding has been sent to the governor and is expected to receive final approval in March. One hundred sixty-six bills have been introduced and are awaiting further action. Several states have not yet convened for their legislative session, and at least one state—Alabama—is expected to file a significant transportation investment bill.

Read the full TIAC report.

ARTBA-TIAC tracks ongoing state transportation funding legislation across the U.S. and provides regular updates through its blog at www.transportationinvestment.org. TIAC staff also produces regular research reports and analysis, hosts an annual workshop in Washington, D.C. and holds ongoing webinars for transportation investment advocates featuring case studies, best practices and the latest in political and media strategies.

In November 2018, TIAC tracked a record 346 state and local transportation-related ballot measures in its annual election report, showing voter support for the measures at 79 percent nationwide.

Established in 1902 and with more than 8,000 public and private sector members, Washington, D.C.-based ARTBA advocates for strong investment in transportation infrastructure to meet the public and business community demand for safe and efficient travel.

ARTBA’s Bauer Urges Congress to Fix The Highway Trust Fund

By John Schneidawind, vice president of public affairs, ARTBA

ARTBA President and CEO Dave Bauer Feb. 28 told the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) that industry leaders and state agencies need to keep urging Congress to fix the Highway Trust Fund so that it not only is sustainable but also supports investment growth. Failure to put in place a solution to the trust funds’ permanent revenue shortfall will imperil next year’s scheduled reauthorization of the federal surface transportation programs.

“We’re trying to fix an $18 billion revenue shortfall,” Bauer said. “To shore it up we’ve used $140 billion in gimmicks and general fund transfers for the last 10 years. So this is no longer about a temporary plug to fill the Highway Trust Fund; we need to look for a long-term solution.”

In states and localities, he added, community leaders and elected officials are better positioned to tell voters what road and bridge improvements will mean to help local economies. Two such success stories in the Washington, D.C., region are the Woodrow Wilson Bridge spanning the Potomac River, and increased capacity on the interchange between Interstate 95 and Interstate 495, better known as the Beltway.

“We should be celebrating the outcome of those projects,” Bauer said. On the federal side, “there’s very little discussion about what infrastructure achieves.”

Other industry panelists included Paul Skoutelas, president and CEO of the American Public Transportation Association; Anne Ferro, president of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators; Corinne Kisner, executive director of the National Association of City Transportation Officials; and Matt Chase, executive director of the National Association of Counties.

Returning “earmarks” is one tool Congress could use to garner public support for increased infrastructure spending, House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) suggested, though he did not use the word. DeFazio said “Article I projects,” named after the article of the Constitution that established the legislative branch of the federal government, will help build support for a gas tax increase needed to replenish the depleted Highway Trust Fund and support the next surface transportation bill, due next year.

“Why shouldn’t elected representatives, through a transparent process, be able to spend a small amount of money, bring it home, and show people what they’re going to get for a small increase in their gas tax?” DeFazio asked.

For more information visit: artba.org 

FY 2019 Spending Bills Are Finally Law

By Dean Franks, senior vice president, congressional relations, ARTBA

The House and Senate Feb. 14 overwhelmingly approved the final seven FY 2019 spending bills after nearly five months of short-term extensions and the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.  President Donald Trump Feb. 15 signed the legislation despite the lack of southern border wall funding included in the Homeland Security portion of the package.

The law includes full FAST Act surface transportation law funding for core highway and transit programs. It also contains $5.5 billion in additional general revenue funding for surface and aviation capital investments as the second part of a two-year bipartisan budget agreement reached in 2018. Here’s the breakdown:

In a Feb. 14 letter, the ARTBA co-chaired Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) urged all members of the House and Senate to support the package.

The completion of the FY 2019 funding bills is important to the transportation construction industry for multiple reasons:

  • States will receive their full-year spending authority, which should ease uncertainty and allow their transportation departments to continue developing planned projects;
  • Congressional leadership and Trump administration officials can focus on other areas of potential agreement, such as the enactment of a robust infrastructure package in 2019; and
  • the Trump administration can send its FY 2020 budget to Congress, allowing senators and representatives to begin working on the next round spending bills.

ARTBA will continue to encourage Congress and the administration to include a solution to the Highway Trust Fund revenue shortfall in any infrastructure legislation put forward this year.

ARTBA’s Chief Economist Expects Real Growth for Transportation Construction Market in 2019