Seeking to avoid another short-term extension of federal transportation programs when the current (and eighth short-term extension) expires next March, House and Senate transportation leaders are working hard to gain sufficient support to move their respective transportation proposals.
Key to the discussion is the need for increased federal revenue to fund federal transportation programs at a time when fuel taxes are falling short of current transportation spending levels and far below the projected infrastructure needs of the nation.
In recent days, the Government Accountability Office removed one of the key irritants in the discussion over revenue, finding that no state paid more in federal fuel taxes than was returned in federal transportation dollars. This concern of the so-called “donee” states can only be resolved when there is more money flowing into the highway trust fund. This year, Congress faces multiple threats to transportation dollars — a decrease in driving and more fuel-efficient vehicles reducing dollars — and a budget-cutting environment.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) are both talking to their colleagues to find additional revenues to fund a long-term transportation program. This summer, Mica and Boxer offered outlines of long-term legislation to extend federal transportation programs, but have not been able to move further with their legislative proposals.
Read more at the National League of Cities.