ARTBA President & CEO Pete Ruane joined more than a dozen Democratic members of the Highways & Transit Subcommittee of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee February 3 for a roundtable discussion on stabilizing the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and ARTBA’s reauthorization policy priorities. Ruane told Highways & Transit Subcommittee Ranking Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) all discussions about a long-term surface transportation bill must start with a permanent plan to increase HTF Revenues. He emphasized ARTBA has been a long-time supporter of a motor fuel tax increase as well as other meaningful proposals to generate new trust fund revenues. Ruane cautioned the subcommittee members that further budget gimmicks to temporarily patch the trust will only lead to more short-term program extensions and uncertainty in the construction marketplace. He also highlighted a number of ARTBA policy goals, including a dedicated freight program, increased transparency in how federal surface transportation funds are used by the states and further improvements to accelerate the transportation project review and approval process.
Ruane also participated in a February 4 Capitol Hill press conference called by Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) to highlight legislation Blumenauer is introducing to increase the federal motor fuels tax by 15 cents per gallon. The increase would be phased in by increments of eight cents in year one, four cents in year two, three cents in year three and the tax would then be indexed to the rate of inflation in following years. Blumenauer introduced similar legislation in 2013, which did not advance out of the House Ways & Means Committee. Ruane commended Blumenauer for his forthright proposal and noted failing to act to generate new trust fund revenues would threaten the 2015 construction season. Other stakeholders participating in the event were the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, AFL-CIO, AAA, American Trucking Associations, Associated General Contractors of America and American Society of Civil Engineers.