Highway Funding Another Test for Congress

Among its growing list of priorities, Congress must also deal with reauthorization of the surface transportation bill — in other words, how much money each state gets for highway needs. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and James Oberstar (D-Minnesota), chair of the House transportation and infrastructure committee, hint that something "big" is coming.

In fact, a six-year reauthorization of near $500 billion (compared to $286.4 billion in 2005) has been mentioned. One problem: Where is the money going to come from? Oberstar wants to raise the 18.4-cent federal gas tax, but general consensus is that new, innovative ideas (public-private partnerships and the like) must be part of the solution. LaHood says the White House will be providing guidance to Congress.

Indiana, of course, is among several "donor states" that already sends more to Washington in taxes than it receives back in the highway allocation.

Lawmakers hope to get a bill through the House in June. The current law expires in September.

Good luck. Past history, and current funding woes, indicate this will be a tough one.