Stand Up 4 Transportation

Time is running out, and Congress has only funded federal transportation spending through May 31. The traditional source of funding the Highway Trust Fund has been the 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal gas tax, established in the 1930s. However, that tax has not been increased since 1993, and today’s fuel-efficient cars have made this funding method largely ineffective. The gas tax only brings in $34 billion per year, and the federal government spends about $50 billion per year on transportation projects—simple math shows we have a $16 billion-per-year deficit, which is clearly a problem. Congress has passed a number of short-term extensions to the last transportation bill (32 in the last six years), but lawmakers in both parties have yet to agree upon a long-term transportation funding solution to replenish the Highway Trust Fund.

On March 30, the White House sent Congress a $478 billion bill that would provide the federal share of transportation funding for the next six years. To supplant the declining federal gas tax revenue, the bill proposes a 14% tax on an estimated $2 billion in profits that U.S. corporations have stashed overseas to avoid higher corporate tax rates. Known as repatriation, this mandated tax would generate an estimated $238 billion in revenue that could pay for infrastructure improvements. The Obama administration’s bill would increase annual funding by nearly $25 billion. The House and Senate are also both working on their own transportation bills, but it doesn’t appear that either one will boost federal spending beyond the current $50 billion per year.

To bring more attention to infrastructure funding issues nationwide—mainly for highways and public transit—and to spark awareness of the consequences of inadequate funding on American communities, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has designated April 9th as National Stand Up for Transportation Day. APTA members and partner groups in business, transportation, development, and other areas will hold media events and rallies in local communities across the country, with the intent of convincing the U.S. Congress to pass a long-term, sustainable, and reliable surface transportation funding bill.

I encourage you to get involved in National Stand Up for Transportation Day to help raise awareness of the need for federal transportation funding—especially as the highway construction season is about to begin. Transportation funding not only keeps our highways and public transit systems operational, it’s used for materials, equipment, and labor purchases that fuel our economy. Visit APTA’s website to view a map of the day’s participating APTA members, an action plan, suggested talking points, activity ideas, and more.

GAI will continue to monitor and report on transportation funding news. Look for more updates in future blog posts by Greg Nettuno, PE and other corporate leaders throughout GAI. Greg can be reached at 904.363.1110.

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