By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

ARTBA President & CEO Pete Ruane Nov. 16 blasted the House-passed tax bill for failing to address the looming insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund in 2021 and the “$1,000 per year ‘hidden tax’ borne by every American household due to ever increasing traffic congestion on the Interstate highways.”

“The Highway Trust Fund solvency problem is a revenue problem, not a policy problem,” Ruane said in a statement. “It is a problem that rests squarely on the shoulders of the House and Senate committees charged with developing revenue and tax bills. Federal transportation tax reform should be a priority in this broad legislation. Thus far, the ball has been dropped.”

Ruane noted 253 House members—119 Republicans and 134 Democrats—signed a June 12 letter to House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Ranking Democrat Richard Neal (D-Mass.) urging a permanent trust fund solution be included in tax reform.

Ruane said congressional inaction on the trust fund “could tube President Trump’s plans for infrastructure.” He noted that absent a permanent revenue solution, the federal highway program that provides more than half of the capital investments made by the state transportation departments each year faces a 40 percent cut in 2021.

As the tax bill process moves forward, “There is still time for Congress to do its job,” Ruane said. He urged President Trump to engage Congress in transportation tax reform now “to secure the down payment that will be necessary to make his infrastructure initiative successful.”