ARTBA President & CEO Pete Ruane told a packed room of Capitol Hill reporters today that when it comes to the Highway Trust Fund’s (HTF) continuing revenue shortfalls, Congress needs to “learn this problem is not going away.”
Congress has “patched” the HTF with supplemental revenue injections four times since 2008 in order to maintain federal highway and transit investment commitments. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, without congressional action, all trust fund revenues in FY 2015 will be consumed by prior year commitments, meaning the fund will be unable to support any new highway and public transportation improvement projects next year—a one-time reduction of nearly $50 billion.
“Ending this cycle of dysfunction requires an immediate plan to get through this construction season without the threat of a shut down or delayed federal payments,” Ruane said. “Then Congress needs to come together with a bipartisan plan to permanently stabilize and grow the Highway Trust Fund’s revenue base.”
The news conference was hosted by Senate Environment & Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who noted that thousands of businesses and millions of jobs depend on the trust fund. “We are facing a mayday situation and I’m here to send an SOS to Congress because we are facing a transportation government shutdown,” she said. Boxer called on leaders of the House and Senate tax writing committees to work together in a bipartisan manner in order to find the resources needed to support the six-year highway reauthorization bill that passed out of her committee May 15.
Boxer said she supports a plan to patch the Highway Trust Fund past the November elections, calling it “necessary to stave off disaster,” but did not want a plan that would go beyond the end of the year.
Ruane was joined by leaders from the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO.