The Congressional Budget Office asserts the national Highway Trust Fund would need $3 billion in ADDITIONAL revenue to keep funding transportation projects through the end of September. And it would need $8 billion if Congress chose to extend funding authority until the end of 2015. Read more via The Hill.
Obviously, there are serious challenges facing America’s road infrastructure.
Cam Carter, the Indiana Chamber’s vice president of economic development and federal relations, outlines the main problem.
“Congress needs to get its act together and summon the political will to fashion a long-term solution to the insolvency of the highway trust fund,” he asserts. “We’ve had our fill of short-term patches. Some will say that the highway fund is insolvent because today’s vehicles are more fuel efficient and that is depressing revenues going into the fund – and there is some truth to this. But, the greater truth is that Congress hasn’t raised fuel taxes to keep up with inflation since 1993 and that, more than anything, is the root of the problem.”
Interesting analysis this week from Arizona congressman Jeff Flake and the Heritage Foundation’s Ronald Utt. Their message: donor states — those that pay more in federal fuel taxes than they receive back in highway funds (Indiana has been on that list for years) — need to band together when the transportation bill is reauthorized later this year.
They go so far as to suggest the following:
The most effective reform would be to cut out Washington regulators and bureaucracy altogether. Simply let each state keep the 18.3 cents per gallon federal fuel tax paid by motorists within its borders (as well as the diesel fuel tax paid by truckers). In turn, states would be held fully responsible for their own transportation programs. The upshot: State transportation agencies would have the funds and the flexibility needed to keep things running smoothly within their borders.
D.C.-based central-planning and financial management made sense back in 1956 when the sole task of the new federal program was to build the interstate highway system coast to coast and border to border. But that task was completed in the mid-1980s.
Don’t know if that is the answer, but it does make you think there has to be a better way. Read their full analysis.