If you have the brainspace and stomach for it, here’s an update from Metro CEO Art Leahy and the agency’s government relations team on efforts to keep the federal Highway Trust Fund solvent:
U.S. House of Representatives Bill Would Fully Fund Federal Highway Trust Fund Through May 2015
Earlier today [Tuesday], legislation was introduced in the U.S House of Representatives by the Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means that would fully fund the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) through May 2015. The bill (H.R. 5021) offered by Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) would derive approximately $6.5 billion in new revenues from “pension smoothing” and another $3.5 billion from extending custom fees until 2024. Critics of the legislation have noted that the bill raises revenues over a 10 year period to ensure the solvency of the HTF for only the next 10 months.
The House Committee on Ways and Means is expected to hold a markup of H.R. 5021 this Thursday.
Also this week, the Senate Committee on Finance, led by Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ranking member Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT) may act on their own version of a bill to ensure the solvency of the HTF. The Senate proposal, while not finalized, is expected to raise approximately $8 billion in new revenues, which would keep the HTF solvent through December of this year.
Please find here the text of H.R. 5021. We will continue to communicate our high level of interest on this matter with members of the Los Angeles County Congressional Delegation.
Why does this matter? See this post that explains how a depleted federal Highway Trust Fund could eventually result in service cuts at Metro and other financial impacts.
Categories: Policy & Funding, Projects, Transportation News
Pension Smoothing? Does that mean they will be taking more money out of Social Security?
Rather than the apparently half-baked measure proposed in H.R. 5021, or a national/state vehicle mile tax, I would be curious to see if a measure allowing existing highway lanes to be converted into toll lanes would be feasible.
If this goes on long enough, Republicans in Congress are going to learn the hard way that they can’t have their cake and eat it too. You can’t continue to subsidize the “free” interstate highway system without either raising the existing taxes or finding a new way to tax their usage.
A hybrid approach might be the best way forward: Use an increased gas tax and other measures to fund the rural interstates, while tolls and VMTs could fund the urban interstates. That may also encourage out-of-control state transportation departments (*cough* Texas DOT) to either cut back on their urban freeway construction, toll it, or (best yet) demolish it.
Then again, pigs may fly.