Battle Looms Over Federal Transportation Funding

A battle is looming in Congress over transportation funding as Congressional authority for spending in the Highway Trust Fund is nearing expiration and funds are drying up. While both sides support additional funding for transportation, there is no consensus as to how these funds should be generated. Many options have been placed on the table for discussion.

As reported by “The Hill:”

The Equipment Manufacturers and other transportation groups have come out in favor of an increase in the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax, but many in Congress oppose asking drivers to pay more at the pump to help pay for road projects.

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) issued a proposal Thursday to nearly double the gas tax. If lawmakers find that politically untenable Pete Ruane, the group’s president, offered a potential deal sweetener.

“If our national leaders think they need to use budget gimmicks or ‘one-offs’ again to pass the surface transportation investment program the states need and the business community has been pleading for, then use those devices to provide a $90 tax rebate to middle and lower income tax filers to offset the cost to them of a 15 cent per gallon increase in the federal gas tax,” he said.

Policy makers have also proposed solutions.

Additional proposals from the White House and lawmakers like Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) rely instead on the idea of taxing overseas corporate revenue to pay for a new round of road projects.

The proposal, which is known as “repatriation,” has also been supported by the Obama administration, which included a $478 billion transportation bill he sent to Capitol Hill last month.

Congressional transportation authorization expired in 2009.  Since that time, Congress has passed a number of short-term measures to continue funding the trust fund. An $11 billion proposal approved in 2014 is set to expire on May 31, 2015.