Highway Trust Fund Insolvency: 30 Days and Counting


There has been much discussion on Capitol Hill and throughout the nation about increasing funding for infrastructure. From highways to transit to ports, our nation depends on infrastructure to thrive. Though federal lawmakers are once again looking toward a short-term funding patch for the beleaguered Highway Trust Fund, ASCE continues to advocate for a long-term, sustainable funding solution.

There have been several bills proposed by legislators in the past few months. The Update Act and Repatriation bill are two proposals that have garnered considerable media attention. In USA Today, Rep. Paul Ryan lauded the Repatriation bill, aimed at lowering the tax rate on overseas profits earned by U.S. corporations and using the tax revenue for the Highway Trust Fund, as part of a permanent reform going from a worldwide system to a “more internationally competitive exemption system.” ASCE supports these bills to fund surface transportation; however neither proposal has gained significant traction or bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill.

According to a recent poll by Mineta Transportation Institute, 71 percent of voters would be willing to pay a dime more than the current 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax if the money is spent on “projects to maintain streets, roads and highways.” In contrast to funding patches, raising the federal gas tax would be a stable source of direct funding for transportation infrastructure.

While things at the federal level seem to have stalled, in Michigan voters will soon vote on Proposition 1, which would increase the state sales tax by 1 percent to generate around $1.2 billion a year for roads and at least $107 million annually for public transit and passenger rail.

These state and federal propositions are steps in the right direction for restoring our nation’s transportation 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.

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