Tag Archive for 'roads'
“Restoring purchasing power for the federal surface transportation investment program is a worthy pro-growth national goal,” American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President & CEO Pete Ruane said in a letter June 23 to House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and the committee’s Ranking Democrat Sander Levin (Mich.).
Ruane noted that while the federal gas and diesel excise rates have remained static since 1993, “the price of paving asphalt has risen 170 percent, the price of iron and steel has increased 71 percent and the hourly wage paid a production worker has increased 85 percent.”
Ruane said data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) show that in 1993 when the gas tax rate was last adjusted, American motorists were being asked to contribute 17 percent of the $1.06 per gallon they paid for motor fuel to help fund federal investments in their highways, bridges and transit systems. “This year,’ he said, motorists are contributing 6.6 percent of the $2.80 per gallon they pay on average for motor fuel to support those investments.”
In the letter, Ruane used data and forecasts from the Congressional Budget Office, Federal Highway Administration and EIA to dispute the assertion that the motor fuels excise is no longer a reliable mechanism for generating a sustainable and predictable revenue stream to support future federal investments in surface transportation improvements.
“The mechanism is stable for the next decade,” he said. “The problem is the excise rate.”
A 15 cents-per-gallon increase in the federal gas tax, which would fund a $400 billion six-year highway and transit authorization, “would restore the user pays principle, cost the average motorist less than 25 cents as day and end this morally bankrupt cycle of dumping more and more debt on our children and grandchildren to pay today’s highway and transit bills,” the ARTBA leader said.
Ruane pointed out such a move could also quickly end the chronic congressional search for non-user revenue to bail-out its highway and transit authorizations. “Treasury could begin collecting additional revenue from a rate adjustment as soon as Congress and the president give it statutory authority to do so,” he said.
Senators Unveil 6-Year Transportation Bill
The bipartisan leaders of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee have unveiled a new six-year surface transportation reauthorization costing more than a quarter-trillion dollars, but it’s still unclear how the Senate would pay for it.
The bill would place a new priority on funding streams for off-system bridges as well as a new grant program for projects of strategic and national significance. According to summary materials obtained by CQ Roll Call, it would provide for increased focus on backlogs related to the Interstate Highway System and the National Highway System.
The measure also would set up a formula-based program for funding for freight corridors, in an effort to fund projects that improve the movement of goods.
“This bipartisan bill … contains the hallmark accomplishment of a new freight program to prioritize federal spending on the facilities that will most directly benefit our economy, in addition to prioritizing federal dollars towards bridge safety and the interstate system,” said Chairman James M. Inhofe, R-Okla.
Overall, the measure, which this year has been dubbed the DRIVE Act, would provide for a 3-percent annual growth average over the years from the funding levels in the MAP-21 bill. That equates to roughly $260-270 billion over the six years.
But as is customary, those are not total figures because the bill does not address funding issues within the jurisdiction of the Finance Committee or other provisions belonging to the Commerce and Banking panels. None of those panels have released legislation, and getting the funding has been the sticking point; it’s always easier to dole out the money than decide who you are going to squeeze to get it.
That was a point highlighted in the statement released of a news conference to unveil the bill by the EPW panel’s ranking Democrat, Barbara Boxer of California.
“The clock is ticking, and action in the EPW is a major first step — the other committees also need to act,” Boxer said.
The EPW portion of the bill is scheduled to be marked up Wednesday.
Congress Finally Has a Highway Bill. It Wouldn’t Fix Anything.
The bill contains policy certainty for states, but Congress has no solution for how to fund it.
ARTBA President & CEO Statement on the Senate’s Surface Transportation Proposal
American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President & CEO Pete Ruane issued the following statement regarding the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee’s “Developing a Reliable & Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act”:
“Getting beyond the gridlock that has been strangling federal investment in the nation’s mobility is going to take bipartisan cooperation and leadership. Senators Inhofe, Boxer, Vitter and Carper have stepped up and done their job by outlining a multi-year highway and public transit program that will make America more competitive.
“Now it’s time for the Senate Finance and House Ways & Means committees to do theirs and provide the path forward with a sustainable revenue stream for the Highway Trust Fund. Transportation investment is a core federal responsibility. It’s time to transcend politics and do the right thing for America.”
AEM’s Dennis Slater Speaks out on the Senate’s Surface Transportation Proposal
AEM welcomes the introduction of legislation from Senators Inhofe and Boxer that would meet our nation’s surface transportation needs at robust levels for a full six years. The DRIVE Act represents a serious and bipartisan attempt at breaking the cycle of borrowing just to fund the Highway Trust Fund every few months at a time.
Equipment manufacturers look forward to Senate consideration of this important legislation in the Environment and Public Works Committee and sincerely hope that other relevant committees – including the Senate Finance Committee – soon follow suit.
With another deadline on the horizon, it’s imperative that Congress takes action both swiftly and purposefully to address the Highway Trust Fund. The equipment