Rob Henken
President, Public Policy Forum
August 5, 2014
Discuss the key points of contention surrounding
a new Federal transportation bill and how those
might be resolved.
Contemplate how a new Federal transportation
bill might affect state and local infrastructure
needs and issues.
Review the various options for addressing
transportation funding needs at the federal, state
and local level and the likelihood of a major
overhaul in transportation finance policies.
Transportation Facts
24% of the nation’s bridges are either
structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.
32% of the nation’s major roads are in poor or
mediocre condition.
Transit systems nationwide face an estimated
$77 billion maintenance backlog.
Federal and state gas tax growth reached a
plateau in the late 1990s.
Per CBO, Highway Trust Fund will have a $12
billion deficit this year - $45 million in spending
supported by only $33 million in revenue.
Landmark Legislation: ISTEA
Passed year after 1990 Clean Air Act and in many
respects a response to that Act.
“Flexible” funds previously reserved only for
highways can be spent on transit improvements.
Metropolitan planning organizations given
increased responsibility for planning and
allocating funds for transportation improvements.
Planning process must now include considerations
such as land use, intermodal connectivity, and
methods to enhance transit service.
The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century
(TEA-21) signed by President Clinton in June 1998 –
reauthorized surface transportation programs for the
next 6 years.
Per USDOT, “TEA-21 builds on the initiatives
established in ISTEA…(it) combines the continuation
and improvement of current programs with new
initiatives to meet the challenges of improving
safety…protecting and enhancing communities and
the natural environment…and advancing America’s
economic growth and competitiveness.”
The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient
Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users
(SAFETEA-LU) signed by President Bush in
August 2005, reauthorized programs thru 2009.
“The largest surface transportation investment in
our Nation's history…builds on the firm
foundation of ISTEA and TEA-21.”
But recognizing that long-term and structural
issues not addressed, creates two blue ribbon
commissions to address programmatic and
funding concerns.
A Call to Action?
The Problem: Building America’s Future
“Year after year, Washington kept getting three
essential pieces wrong. First, it lost focus and
strategic vision. Second, it stayed wedded to
revenue sources that no longer meet our capital
needs and to policy approaches that year after
year locked us into increasingly archaic priorities.
And third, it failed to ensure that federal dollars
were directed to projects that would strengthen
our economic competitiveness.”
Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act
(MAP-21) signed into law by President Obama in
July 2012, reauthorized programs through
September 30, 2014.
Per USDOT, “MAP-21 represents a milestone for
the U.S. economy – it provides needed funds
and, more importantly, it transforms the policy
and programmatic framework for investments to
guide the growth and development of the
country’s vital transportation infrastructure.”
Latest Developments
In April, Obama proposed 4-year, $302 billion
transportation bill financed largely by elimination of
corporate tax breaks. Others have proposed gas tax
increase, but no agreement on multi-year package.
HTF depleted, USDOT said funds to states would be
shut off in early August; would impact more than
100,000 projects, kill 700,000 construction jobs.
House approved a “patch” in mid-July – would add
$10.9 billion to HTF, keeping it afloat through May;
financed largely through “pension smoothing.”
Senate approved House bill on July 31, averting the
“crisis” for now.
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