AASHTO Journal, 28 March 2014
A group of 31 state chambers of commerce this week called on Congress to ensure the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund and pass a five-year surface transportation bill that offers flexibility to states.
The letter, sent Tuesday to House and Senate leadership, including Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ranking Member David Vitter (R-LA) along with House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-WV), began by thanking Congress for passing the current surface transportation bill, MAP-21. However, the group immediately warned that the HTF is dangerously close to insolvency and that less than six months remain for MAP-21.
“In order to ensure stability and economic growth, we need to plan its successor now,” according to the letter.
In that next bill, the chamber representatives asked for at least a five-year bill to allow states certainty in their planning, as well as dedicated federal funding to keep the HTF afloat. Additionally, the letter requested flexibility for how states allocate the federal transportation funding, as well as the ability for states to pick the funding options that best work for them individually.
The letter highlights how much states have done on their own in tight fiscal times, but that the federal government has a role to play in transportation infrastructure.
“Several states have passed their own laws to increase investment in transportation infrastructure, but state action alone is not enough,” the letter said. “Even with increased state revenues and innovative mechanisms such as public-private partnerships, there are projects of national significance that cannot be completed without federal assistance.”
Those that signed the letter represented chambers of commerce in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington State, and Wisconsin.
To view the letter and its signatories, go here.