The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing this week on “new routes for funding and financing highways and transit.” This effort included warnings from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that $13 to $18 billion will be needed each year to maintain the current funding levels the Highway Trust Fund provides. Sen. Boxer (D-CA) responded with a promise to have her bill out next week.
As elected officials continue to explore options and offer solutions, including a proposed change to the TIGER Grant program, warnings continue of what is at stake. (Spoiler alert: it’s a lot.) This issue affects all Americans and it’s a ‘toll’ we’re all paying for in one way or another.
So how exactly did we get here? Vox has an explanation in six charts.
This week also saw some discussion on raising the gas tax (from the media, not so much from politicians) including CNBC, CNN Money and Al Jazeera America. The Washington Post offers a great explanation of how inflation, not efficiency, has led us to this transportation funding cliff. And the discussion of tolls as a funding mechanism continued from last week, an option that may be more appealing to Congress during an election year.
Discussion is vital, but we need continued leadership and action to secure a reliable funding mechanism. As states, including Oregon, brace for transportation projects without federal funding dollars from the Highway Trust Fund it is time to #FixtheTrustFund.