Tag Archive for 'ARTBA'

ARTBA President Reacts to Congressional Developments Relating to the Highway Trust Fund

image002The following statement is from American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President & CEO Pete Ruane:

“While we appreciate the efforts of the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committees to move forward this week on their respective plans to keep federal transportation funds flowing to the states, these actions must not be the latest ‘punt and leave the stadium’ strategy that has plagued the federal surface transportation program for far too long.

“The Highway Trust Fund has been limping from crisis to crisis for the past six years as America’s transportation network continues to decline.  Therefore, our message to Congress is simple: your job isn’t close to being done.

“It’s incumbent upon lawmakers in the House and Senate, and officials from the Obama Administration before the end of 2014 to develop a long-term and sustainable Highway Trust Fund solution that supports future transportation capital investments.  Anything less ignores the fragile state of our nation’s economy and does a great disservice to the tens of millions of American motorists, businesses, and workers who rely on the transportation network every day to support their livelihoods.”

ASCE Reports on Gas Tax Increase, Highway Trust Fund Shortfall, Important Bill Stall

Our transportation infrastructure has become a major issue as current funding faces a serious shortfall. More than halfway through the year and most road repairs are still waiting to be started let alone completed. If the country faces another winter like the one that just passed, we’ll need tanks or half-tracks to navigate the pot-hole dominated transportation infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) as well as other associations, such as American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), are growing more concerned as Congress continues to battle over possible solutions to this problem.

Over the years a number of solutions have been proposed and all have been rejected because party politics are more important than user needs. ASCE has posted a number of statements on this situartion.

{08d819bc-1d22-4dd2-80f4-4bea43d54eb4}_ASCE_GovernmentRelations_WashingtonBipartisan Senate Duo Calls for Gas Tax Increase

U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Bob Corker (R-TN) released a plan on Wednesday to raise the federal fuels tax and index it to inflation. Their proposal would increase the gasoline and diesel fuel tax (currently at 18.4 cents and 24.4 cents per-gallon, respectively) by 6 cents per gallon in each of the next two years, for a total rise of 12 cents, and index that tax to inflation using the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The plan would also include a tax relief offset to minimize the fiscal strain placed on consumers and businesses from any future rate hike. ASCE Executive Director Patrick Natale, P.E., applauded the announcement, calling it, “an encouraging step to improve our economy and raise the grades on the nation’s surface transportation infrastructure.” It is estimated that the proposal would raise enough revenue to fund federal surface transportation programs at current levels, and provide for a very slight increase in the out years because of indexing.

Late last year, ASCE supported legislation introduced by Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), H.R. 3636, the “UPDATE Act of 2013,” which would increase the fuels tax by 15 cents per gallon over the course of three years and also index it for inflation. This Congress marks the first time, in a long time, that both the House and Senate have openly discussed, and had members endorse, increases in the federal gas tax. Prospects of this Congress actually enacting such a measure remain unclear, though the best chance may be in the interim legislative period known as the “lame duck” session which begins after the November election and could stretch until the end of December. ASCE will continue to urge Congress to enact legislation that provides a significant, long-term sustainable funding source for surface transportation programs and projects.

New Report Looks for Solutions to the Highway Trust Fund Shortfall

On Wednesday, joining a chorus of advocates looking to move on the Highway Trust Fund, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) released a new report looking for solutions.

In the paper, CRFB calls for a long-term solution, which brings highway spending and revenue in line. Short of that, they also suggest that transferring money into the Trust Fund from general revenue would be acceptable if and only if that transfer is fully paid for with other spending cuts or revenue increases. The paper includes a huge number of potential options to help close the Highway Trust Fund shortfall that help add to the policy debate on Capitol Hill.

Read the report

Senate Debate on Combined Transportation, Science Appropriations Bill Stalls

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate pulled three fiscal year (FY) appropriations bills – Commerce, Justice and Science; Transportation, Housing and Urban Development; and Agriculture – from the floor because there was not agreement on how to proceed with votes over amendments. The Senate had originally planned to debate the bills into next week with hope of speedy passage. The U.S. House of Representatives has already held votes on Commerce, Justice and Science, and Transportation, but has not yet passed Agriculture.

On Transportation, the House approved legislation to fund the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) at a slightly lower amount than is contained in the Senate bill. Both the House and Senate provide $40.3 billion for highways, and the House provides $600 million less for transit, $450 million less for TIGER grants, $130 million less for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and $200 million less for Amtrak.

The Commerce, Justice and Science section provides a total of $51.2 billion in proposed discretionary budget authority for programs at the Departments of Commerce and Justice, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). This is a decrease of $398 million below the fiscal year 2014 level and is funded at the same amount as the bill that cleared the House, although the two chambers’ versions differ in details. Specifically, the Senate bill provides:

• $7.2 billion for NSF, an increase of $83 million over fiscal year 2014. The House version provides $7.4 billion.
• $900 million for NIST, $50 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. The House version contains $856 million for NIST.
• $17.9 for NASA, $254 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. The House version also funds NASA $17.9 billion.

Should the Senate quickly resume debate and adopt these appropriations bills and should the House approve Agriculture, there exists sufficient time before the August recess for both chambers to remedy any differences and enact legislation on-time before the start of the new fiscal year on October 1. However, if recent history is any indicator, it is more likely that an appropriations patch, or “continuing resolution”, of some short-term length will be required this fall.

ASCE has been urging Congress to agree on a fix for the Highway Trust Fund which is facing insolvency in the next couple of months. Appropriations bills and current enacted funding levels will be inadequate to prevent a funding crisis if there is not enough money in the trust fund to provide project reimbursements. That is why ASCE is urging the public to act now and tell their Members of Congress to “Fix the Trust Fund“.

ARTBA CEO on the Passing of Former House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.)

image001by Beth McGinn               

The following statement is from ARTBA President & CEO Pete Ruane:

Jim Oberstar

Jim Oberstar

“Jim Oberstar was the epitome of a statesman. He truly believed good policy made good politics

“For more than 40 years, Jim combined an encyclopedic knowledge of intermodal transportation issues with a practical ability to forge consensus among parties with divergent perspectives.
The end result is a long, unmatched list of legislative achievements in the transportation arena.

“In the air, he fought for safer airline cabins, adequate emergency exits, and floor-proximity directional lighting. On the ground, he was a driving force and author of historic federal highway, bridge, and public transportation investment laws in 1991, 1998 and 2005. His goal always was to make travel in the U.S. more safe, efficient and accessible for all Americans.

“On a personal level, I was honored to have known Jim since 1972 and proud to call him a friend. He was a kind and generous man with a booming laugh, had a strong commitment to his family, and an ability to keep you captivated with his story-telling. The palpable sense of joy on his face when he talked about his children and grandchildren will not be forgotten.

“The membership of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association extends its deepest sympathies to Jim’s wife, Jean, and to the entire Oberstar family. He will be missed.”

ARTBA’s summary of the Obama Administration Surface Transportation Reauthorization Proposal

image001Obama Administration Surface Transportation Reauthorization Proposal

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today released the Obama Administration’s four-year surface transportation reauthorization proposal that would increase federal highway investment by almost $10 billion per year and public transportation investment by nearly $7.5 billion annually from FY 2015-2018. The four-year, $302 billion GROW AMERICA Act— Generating Renewal, Opportunity, and Work with Accelerated Mobility, Efficiency, and Rebuilding of Infrastructure and Communities throughout America—does not contain a specific, dedicated revenue proposal. The proposal calls for transferring $150 billion in revenue from a rewrite of the nation’s corporate tax laws to the Highway Trust Fund. While that concept for replenishing the fund is similar to what House Republicans have advocated, the trust fund’s revenue crisis will materialize in a matter of months and Congress will not be considering tax reform in 2014.

Highway Program

The Administration’s reauthorization plan would provide a four-year total of $199 billion for the federal highway program. For FY 2015, the Administration proposes an obligation limitation for the federal highway program of $47.3 billion, a $7.0 billion increase over the FY 2014 limitation of $40.3 billion. This would grow in subsequent years.

Only three major changes are proposed to the MAP-21 highway program structure. First, the Administration proposes to create a new Fixing and Accelerating Surface Transportation (FAST) program, which would provide $500 million each year of the bill to generate long-term systematic innovations and reforms in surface transportation. Second, the Administration would upgrade MAP-21’s freight policy program with dedicated funding of $10 billion over the four years. Third, the Administration proposes a “Fix-it-First” initiative called the Critical Immediate Investments Program (CIIP). This initiative would allocate $13.4 billion over four years to “reduce the number of structurally deficient Interstate Highway System bridges, target safety investments and support a state of good repair on the National Highway System.” Funding for all three is included in the highway total.

Total highway funding, including the FAST proposal and funds not subject to the obligation limitation, would be $48.6 billion, up from $41.0 billion in FY 2014. The total would grow to $51 billion by FY 2018. Year-by-year details are shown in the table below.

Freight Program

The bill would upgrade the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” (MAP-21) reauthorization law’s freight policy provisions by creating a new “Multimodal Freight Investment Program.” This initiative would provide $10 billion for rail, highway and port improvements that would enhance efficient movement of goods within the country and abroad. Funding would grow from $1 billion in FY 2015 to $4 billion in FY 2018 and is included in the $199.2 billion allocated for the Highway Program.

The proposed freight program would consist of two elements. A “Multimodal Freight Incentive Program” would apportion half the funds among the states by formula for capital projects on approved state freight plans, with forty percent of a state’s funds for in-state improvements and sixty percent for cooperative improvements involving at least one adjacent state. The remaining funds would be reserved for the Secretary to fund the “National Freight Infrastructure Program,” which would provide grants to states, local governments, MPOs and public transportation authorities on a competitive basis for projects that reduce freight costs, remove bottlenecks, improve safety or increase the state of good repair of the freight network. Funds could be used for improvements to any element of the national freight network, including roads, rails, landside infrastructure on ports and airports, and intermodal connectors.

The proposed freight program recognizes that the Federal government has an important role in facilitating safe and efficient freight movement in the United States as ARTBA articulated with its proposed 2007 Critical Commerce Corridors national goods movement program. Of concern, however, is that the proposal would, for the first time, allow revenues deposited in the Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund to be used for improvements to railroads and ports.

Public Transportation Program

The Administration’s reauthorization proposal would provide a 4-year total of $72.3 billion for the Public Transportation program. There would be a big jump in funding in FY 2015 to a total of $17.6 billion, up from $10.7 billion in FY 2014. This would grow to $18.7 billion by FY 2018. Most of the proposed increase would be for the Formula and Bus Grant programs, which provide funds to transit agencies around the country for capital improvements and bus purchases.

Funding for the Capital Investment Grants (New Starts) program, which is the source of federal funds for major subway and light rail construction projects, would be increased to $2.5 billion in FY 2015 from $1.9 billion in FY 2014. This would grow to $2.9 billion by FY 2018, for a 4-year total of $10.8 billion. In addition, funding for the New Starts program would be shifted from the general account to the Mass Transit Account, which means it would no longer require an annual appropriation.

Two new transit programs are proposed. A Rapid Growth Area Transit Program would provide $500 million in FY 2015, and a four-year total of $2.2 billion, for bus rapid transit, while the transit part of the FAST program described above would have $500 million per year.

Transportation Trust Fund

The Administration proposes to expand the Highway Trust Fund into a multimodal Transportation Trust Fund (TTF). In addition to the existing Highway and Mass Transit Accounts, the TTF would include a Rail Account that would fund intercity and passenger rail improvements and a Multimodal Account that would fund competitively awarded surface transportation grants.

All surface transportation programs including those currently funded from the General Fund, such as the TIGER program and the transit Capital Investment program, would be moved into the TTF. The Administration proposes to re-classify this fund as mandatory spending, which would not be subject to the annual appropriations process. This reform would make the fund’s budgetary treatment comparable to that of Social Security and interest on the national debt.

To assure that the trust fund has sufficient revenues to fund the Administration’s proposed surface transportation bill, it proposes to inject a total of $150 billion into the trust fund between FY 2015 and FY 2018, with the funds coming from the proceeds of proposed corporate tax reforms. Of this, $74.4 billion would go into the Highway Account, $51.6 billion into the Mass Transit Account, $19.1 billion into the Rail Account and $5 billion into the Multimodal Account.

Passenger Rail

As part of its surface transportation reauthorization plan, the Administration is proposing a major revamping of the federal programs that fund intercity passenger rail, including Amtrak. The current operating and capital investment programs for Amtrak would be replaced with two new entities. A proposed Current Passenger Rail Service program would provide funding for repairs to passenger rail and resources to continue long-distance rail service. A proposed Rail Service Improvement Program would fund development of high-speed intercity rail and rail safety improvements.

The Administration requests $4.8 billion for these two rail programs in FY 2015, up from $1.6 billion in FY 2014, and a 4-year total of $19 billion. Funds would come from the proposed Rail Account of the TTF. Federal investment in passenger rail has required separate legislation in the past and would be a new element in the surface transportation bill.

TIGER Program

The Administration proposes to more than double funding for the National Infrastructure Investments program, popularly known as the TIGER program, from $600 million in FY 2014 to $1.25 billion in FY 2015. The same amount is proposed for each of the next three years, for a four-year total of $5 billion.

Funding for the TIGER program, which provides competitive grants for improvements of national or regional significance in all transportation modes, is in addition to the regular highway and mass transit programs and has come from the general fund, not the Highway Trust Fund. Under the Administration’s proposal, the TIGER program would get its own National Infrastructure Investments Trust Fund, with the money coming from the new Multimodal Account of the TTF.

The Administration is also proposing a new $4 billion competitive grant program focused on innovative projects to improve transportation performance, productivity and cost-effectiveness.

ARTBA GROW Act Summary-41 For FY 2015 – FY 2018, highway data represent contract authority; no information was provided on the Administration’s proposed obligation limitations. Differences, however, should be slight.

Industry Associations Comment on Proposed Surface Transportation Bill

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AED Statement on White House Draft Surface Transportation Bill

Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) President and CEO Brian P. McGuire released the following statement regarding the Obama administration’s draft reauthorization proposal for highways and surface transit, which was delivered to Congress by Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx on April 29, 2014.

“We’re pleased to see President Obama and Secretary Foxx playing an aggressive leadership role on road, bridge, and transit issues. With the federal highway program on the verge of collapse, we need innovative thinking about to how build, fund and finance America’s 21st century transportation system. We may have differences with the administration about some priorities and program specifics, but we’re on the same page about the need to make infrastructure a priority. We hope the administration’s comprehensive proposal is a catalyst for quick action by Congress to ensure the highway program’s near-term solvency and long-term stability. AED members look forward to working with the administration and lawmakers in both parties to achieving that goal.”

image001American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) CEO Reacts to Obama Administration Highway & Transit Bill Proposal

The following statement is from ARTBA President & CEO Pete Ruane:

“We commend the Obama Administration for putting forward a four-year proposal that recognizes the need for the significant boost in transportation infrastructure investment necessary to grow the economy, create jobs, and increase the nation’s productivity and international competitiveness.

“At the same time, we urge Congress and the President to engage forthrightly in developing a long-term solution to address the impending financial crisis facing the Highway Trust Fund, and then move quickly to take action on a multi-year highway, bridge and public transportation investment bill.

To read the Washington Post article on proposed Highway Bill click here