The Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates issued a statement to media June 18 opposing asset recycling and tolls as a means of funding infrastructure after media reports contained leaked draft documents speculated to be the funding principles of the infrastructure legislation being negotiated between a bipartisan group of Senators and the White House.
The leaked documents called for incentives to privatize toll roads, asset recycling and the allowance of toll revenues to be used for other non-toll transportation systems as a means of funding infrastructure.
Such policies stand in opposition to the principles of the Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates (ATFI), of which NATSO is a founding member.
“Tolling is an underhanded tax on the supply chain and the American public, not a user fee. Similarly, ‘asset recycling’ is a euphemism for taxation by tolling, in which public roads are leased to private operators who will charge far more for roads than they cost to build – draining everyday drivers to line the pockets of Wall Street and international investors,” ATFI said in its statement to media. “Any attempt to expand tolling would violate President Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 annually. As we seek to recover from the devastating economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, tolls will exacerbate soaring inflation, hurt businesses trying to reopen and double tax Americans who already pay for roads with fuel taxes.
“Loosening tolling restrictions amounts to the federal government shirking its responsibility to generate sustainable funding for roads. Financing through public-private partnerships does not address the long-term solvency problems of the Highway Trust Fund. Allowing states the ‘flexibility’ to toll in fact foists the infrastructure funding problem onto state and local governments and fragments our infrastructure system.”
NATSO reported June 17 that the bipartisan infrastructure proposal was gaining traction with 21 Senators now supporting the framework of an infrastructure deal that President Biden’s Chief of Staff said has “room” for an agreement. An official infrastructure framework has yet to be released.
The New York Times reported June 20 that the bipartisan infrastructure talks are “colliding” with Democrats push to raise taxes on the rich and corporations. “Senators negotiating the infrastructure compromise have steered clear of tax increases, after Republicans made it clear they were unwilling to touch the vast tax cut pushed through Congress in 2017,” The Times reported. “But leading Democrats appear determined to move forward on an array of fronts to reshape the tax code as part of any major infrastructure effort.”
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said June 20 he would not support raising the federal gas tax, fees on electric vehicles or privatization to fund the infrastructure proposal backed by 10 Senate Democrats and 11 Senate Republicans. Senators are reportedly expected to visit the White House for another meeting this week.
As the White House works on its infrastructure framework, the House and Senate continue to move forward with efforts to reauthorize current surface transportation law, which expires Sept. 30. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is expected to vote on its surface transportation reauthorization next week as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised to pass an infrastructure package by the July 4 recess.
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