ALEXANDRIA, Va., (April 6, 2011) – NSSGA views the release of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's FY 2012 budget plan with mixed emotions. We applaud and share his interest in consolidating duplicative programs as identified by the Government Accounting Office, focusing funding on the core elements of the program and eliminating the diversions to non-transportation projects. We are concerned, however, that the Ryan plan relies solely on the revenues going into the Highway Trust Fund to fund the program going forward, revenues which already have been shown to fall far short of meeting the needs of surface transportation network. Further, the budget plan prohibits any increase in the gas user fee to fill the funding gap.
NSSGA members agree with Chairman Ryan that we must deal aggressively with the burgeoning deficit. As NSSGA Chairman of the Board Dave Thomey of Maryland Materials Inc. said in his inaugural address, "We must take America back." But, the nation's highway system is the foundation of America's economic growth and competitiveness. Continued underfunding and limiting our investment in the nation's vascular system will only lead to increased congestion that costs millions annually in wasted fuel, lost time and higher costs down the road.
In testimony before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, Chairman Thomey called for ending diversions of highway revenues to other programs, more project streamlining, more clarity in the process of assessing indirect and direct cumulative environmental impact analysis and mitigation, and giving aggregate resource identification and protection increased priority in land planning.
Thomey closed his statement by saying, "We build more than roads, highways and buildings. We build the homes where we raise our families. We build the schools where we educate our children in hopes they will have a brighter future. We build the American Dream and before anything else, we want to ensure that it is still possible for all Americans."
NSSGA looks forward to working with Congress to ensure that our nation's surface transportation network, which is the nation's economic engine, is not stifled but primed for growth and job creation that will fuel economic recovery and ensure that the American Dream endures.