Congress stuck in “my way, or NO highway” mentality–thousands of jobs at stake
With just 15 days remaining until the Federal Highway Trust Fund runs out of money, Congress is scrambling to come up with a solution. The good news, all sides of the argument want to restore the fund’s resources and prevent a major economic disaster which would touch every state. The bad news is that lawmakers disagree with nearly every solution presented; creating a gridlock that, if not solved, would impact hundreds of thousands of jobs, and halt or stop more than 100,000 highway and transit projects. In California alone, more than 73,000 jobs and 5,600 active projects will be in jeopardy if Congress fails to act. OCBC is at the forefront of advocacy on this issue, meeting with the speaker’s office and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee technical staff to advocate for a solution that will not leave the county and nation’s roads unfunded.
In response to Congressional inaction, the Obama administration launched a campaign this week aimed at raising awareness in regards to the the nation’s critical infrastructure needs. The White House has released an interactive map informing the public as to what is at stake in their neighborhood and encourages people to speak up. Contact your representative today to urge them to come to the table and find a solution.
The fund is running low in part to decreased revenue coming from the 18.4 cents per gallon gas tax, which has not been raised since 1993 despite increased funding on infrastructure projects. By not adjusting to inflation, and with vehicles becoming more fuel efficient, gas tax revenue has increased by only 10 percent from 2000-2014, while spending from the fund has increased 60 percent. While numerous resolutions have been suggested, including the obvious-raise the gas tax to reflect current spending and usage-lawmakers can’t agree on a long-term solution, leaving only short-term fixes. The Obama administration’s plan, which has not gained republican support and is unlikely to pass, proposes to fund $150 billion of the spending with a corporate tax increase. Both the house and senate have drafted competing plans to provide about $11 billion in funding, which would extend insolvency until May 2015. The House of Representatives passed a bill today that would provide highway funding through extending customs fees on importers that otherwise will expire, taking money from a separate trust fund for leaking underground storage tanks and changing rules on private pension contributions. The Senate Finance Committee bill is similar; though trims back the pension provision with measures intended to force better compliance with existing tax law. Contact your legislator today to urge them to come to the table and find a solution. CLICK HERE to find your representative. For more information contact Bryan Starr, Sr. Vice President, Government Affairs.