As the clock ticks, post-winter pothole damage accumulates and families and businesses are increasingly affected by the outdated infrastructure conditions, lawmakers and members of Congress are raising their voices to find sustainable funding solutions.
With just 37 days until our current transportation funding extension expires, several states and industries are making their case for investment. In Michigan, harsh winters and lack of repairs have left only 17 percent of the roads in good condition, costing vehicle owners an additional $132 in damage costs each year. Since Michigan’s “largest economic sectors-manufacturing, agriculture and tourism-are highly reliant on an efficient and well-maintained transportation system,” addressing transportation needs is critical to the state’s economic well being. In response to the great investment need, Proposal 1, an amendment that would raise the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent, would help pay for road repair among other things.
Infrastructure impacts every sector of our economy —including our nation’s agriculture. A recent article in National Journal explored the challenges farmers and ranchers face in getting their products to markets both here and overseas through waterways, rails, roads and ports. In order to support our nation’s agriculture, locks and dams need to be rebuilt, roads need to be resurfaced, trains need new tracks and ports need modernization and stable labor relations.
This week the U.S. Senate held two hearings on the federal transit program. During the hearings, the Banking Committee heard from transit stakeholders and Acting Federal Transit Administration Chief Therese McMillan on the need to provide additional funding for capital grants to match the growth in transit projects seeking funding.
The Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee also held a hearing on the Obama administration’s fiscal year 2016 (FY16) budget request, which includes the surface transportation re-authorization GROW America proposal. During the hearing, Foxx addressed questions about GROW America’s ability to ensure long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund. In response to criticisms that the act would not ensure long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund, Foxx pointed to the hope that visible infrastructure improvements might motivate lawmakers to secure a long-term federal funding solution.
These state and federal propositions are steps in the right direction for restoring our nation’s infrastructure. Given the Highway Trust Fund’s impending insolvency, it is more critical than ever that Congress work together to pass legislation to provide a sustainable, long-term funding solution to #FixTheTrustFund.