Stimulus. Cap and trade. Health care reform. All have been/are vying for attention — and dollars — in Washington. But what about transportation funding? You know, paying for the highways, bridges and infrastructure that help keep our country moving.
The Indiana Chamber’s Cam Carter was one of more than 100 association and business leaders to converge on Washington yesterday to deliver the "Transportation is Your Business" message to lawmakers. The SAFETEA-LU (you have to love those Washington acronyms) authorizing legislation expires on September 30. Delays on a new funding plan are normal, but the U.S. Chamber (organizer of this event) and the business community don’t want those in the nation’s capital to overlook these vital resources.
Among the major challenges is the fact that the traditional funding source for transportation projects, the federal gasoline tax, is generally regarded as nowhere near adequate to meet future needs. More public-private partnerships (see Major Moves here in Indiana) are touted as one of the solutions, but protectionist attitudes have put a damper on these projects. Washington, states, locals and more must begin to realize and accept that additional foreign investment is a good thing.
Transportation investment helps drive the economy (creating jobs in construction, engineering and more) and cost-effective and efficient services are essential for companies and their employees. If we can’t move products and people, we’re basically out of business.
A recent report noted that President Obama and some congressional leaders favor an 18-month extension of the current law before tackling a new agreement. If that time was spent developing new and innovative strategies to meet current and future needs, MAYBE it would be a good idea. Deadlines in Washington, however, like at the state level, often mean the work doesn’t get done until that drop dead time approaches (or passes). Carter reports from Washington that the 18-month extension is likely to become a reality.
Transportation investment is a big issue. Companies, large and small, and their employees can’t really afford for it to be put on the back burner.
You can join Carter, Chamber President Kevin Brinegar and Indiana business leaders on September 23-24 for the annual D.C. Fly-in. On a more immediate front, Carter and Chamber health care expert Mike Ripley will discuss the fast track efforts on health care reform during Friday’s Policy Issue Conference Call for members.