By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA
A dozen Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee—which has jurisdiction over the Highway Trust Fund’s (HTF) revenue stream—are calling on Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to find a path forward to increase HTF revenues, rather than just patch the key source of road and transit construction dollars at current levels.
“…[T]he Finance Committee must identify a clear path for a long-term, fully funded surface transportation bill at funding levels that would make a significant investment above baseline funding,” the members wrote in their April 28 letter to Hatch. The letter says it’s critical to move swiftly on the issue in a bipartisan manner, and complains there has not been a committee hearing or bipartisan meeting on the issue.
The temporary authorization of the highway/transit programs Congress approved last summer expires May 31, and the HTF will run into its sixth revenue shortfall in eight years later this summer. The funding uncertainty has already caused some state DOTs and transit agencies to delay projects, and more work could come to a halt during the summer construction season.
This isn’t the first letter about the need to fix the HTF to circulate in Congress. In February, two-thirds of the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter to their chamber’s leadership calling for “a long-term sustainable revenue source for our nation’s transportation network as soon as possible.”
A majority of each House caucus—Republicans and Democrats—constituted the 285 signatures.