The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) is asking people to contact their senators and urge them to support legislation that would prevent a devastating $14-billion cut in federal highway investment in FY 2009.
The proposal from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), Committee Ranking Republican Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) would credit the Highway Account for $8 billion that was transferred out of the account to the federal General Fund by the 1998 surface transportation reauthorization law, TEA-21.
The $8-billion transfer was an attempt at that time to appease certain members of Congress concerned about TEA-21’s increased highway and transit investment levels and new budgetary protections for the Highway Trust Fund. Although this legislation was enacted 10 years ago, the fact remains the transferred funds were highway user fee revenues and the trust fund would not be facing a shortfall if these revenues had not been diverted to non-transportation purposes.
The current short-term aviation program extension measure expires June 30. Congress will begin a week-long recess by June 27. As such, a new extension needs to be passed in the next two weeks and that is the vehicle for the Baucus-Grassley-Murray Highway Trust Fund Fix.
Furthermore, the House and Senate appropriations committees are scheduled to act on the FY 2009 transportation funding bill early in July. Failure to resolve the revenue shortfall by that time could force them to produce bills that fund the highway program at $27.2 billion — $14 billion less than the current year’s investment level. To see how your state would be impacted by this cut, go to www.transportationconstructioncoalition.org.
Your Help Needed
ARTBA is asking people to use the ARTBA Toll Free Action Hotline, 1-888-448-2782, to contact their senators to urge them to support the Baucus-Grassley-Murray Highway Trust Fund fix as part of the aviation extension bill. They should tell them:
- Failure to pass this proposal would result in a $14-billion cut in highway investment that would result in 485,000 lost jobs — and the U.S. economy cannot afford either.
- The Baucus-Grassley-Murray proposal would simply recapture lost highway user fee revenue that should have been invested in improving the nation’s transportation network in the first place.