With spring approaching and our nation’s roads baring the battle scars of another rough winter, the dialogue surrounding the Highway trust Fund and need for a sustainable transportation solution is accelerating at the federal level and inspiring states to take more action.
In Michigan, residents have responded to their road needs by creating a pothole challenge to identify the worst potholes in the state. One creative business entrepreneur even invented a pothole ice cream flavor to generate awareness about road funding needs, and plans to donate 1 percent of sales from the product to the state for repairs . Come May 5, voters will be asked to consider Proposal 1, which among other things would boost the state sales tax to 7 percent to eventually generate an extra $1.2 billion annually for roads.
Congress’ 2016 fiscal budget release, which proposes levying a onetime toll on untaxed foreign earnings currently sitting overseas and using the proceeds to pay for infrastructure projects, has generated more federal dialogue on transportation needs.
During National Journal’s “Running on Empty: Tackling America’s Infrastructure Crisis” event on Thursday in Washington, D.C., Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster discussed our transportation funding needs in relation to the new budget proposals. “I feel confident that we will do a long-term bill, a five- or six-year bill,” Shuster said, “because both sides of the aisle, both sides of the Capitol, both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, everybody’s talking about a long-term bill.”
Though raising the federal gas tax is not on the immediate horizon for many states, several states have benefited from gas tax raises to generate transportation funding. ASCE Senior Managing Director Casey Dinges, reported that 11 states, both conservative and liberal, have raised their fuel taxes since 2013. Recently South Dakota signed legislation to increase its 22-cent gas tax by six cents starting April 1.
While the decision regarding long-term, sustainable transportation funding must be made at the federal level, the outcome of the decision affects each American. Congressman John Delaney invited Maryland residents to share how America’s infrastructure has affected their daily lives. He wants Congress to understand how “long commutes, unsafe bridges and overcrowded ports, railways and airports have a direct impact on people’s lives, on their businesses, on the amount of time we all are able to spend with our loved ones.”
Our nation’s infrastructure needs are great, and every day from Main Street to Wall Street Americans are paying the price. It is critical that Congress work quickly to pass legislation to provide a sustainable, long-term funding solution to #FixTheTrustFund.