As NATSO members crisscrossed Capitol Hill to advocate for long-term, sustainable infrastructure funding, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said the Administration continues to evaluate nearly 16 funding mechanisms for boosting infrastructure revenues.
Speaking at the kick off infrastructure week -- which coincided with NATSO’s Annual Day on Capitol Hill 2018 – Secretary Chao also emphasized the use of public private partnerships to fund infrastructure projects, which could lead to such revenue schemes as tolling and commercial rest areas, both of which NATSO strongly opposes.
More than 60 NATSO members spent May 16-18 in Washington, D.C., advocating for long-term, sustainable infrastructure funding, including a federal motor fuels tax increase, and urging lawmakers to reject proposals that would harm off-highway businesses and communities, such as tolling or commercial rest areas.
Secretary Chao said of the 16 funding mechanisms currently under consideration, none is supported by everyone.
“Every single one of them has their advocate, but every single one of them has their detractors as well. The gasoline tax, while popular with some groups, is obviously not popular with others,” Secretary Chao said. “There’s a painful point for all groups. This Administration hopes we will work with Congress to cross this difficult divide.”
The Trump Administration issued a framework for a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package in February. Those guidelines, however, failed to address the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund. Instead, the framework relies heavily on private financing for funding infrastructure.
NATSO thinks it is imperative that the federal government maintain its strong national role in infrastructure development, and not relinquish its responsibility to the states or the private sector.
NATSO members urged lawmakers to demonstrate the political courage necessary to advance an increase to the federal and gasoline diesel taxes, which haven’t been increased since 1993. The motor fuels taxes remain the most equitable and efficient method for collecting infrastructure revenues, with nearly 99 cents of every dollar going to the Highway Trust Fund. Tolls, by comparison, double tax motorists who pay for infrastructure every time they fill up at the pump, and lose nearly one-third of the money collected to administering the tolls.
Commercial rest areas threaten local businesses that operate at Interstate exit interchanges, such as truckstops, gas stations, hotels, convenience stores and restaurants that contribute millions to local communities in tax revenues and support local jobs. Commercialized rest areas also threaten blind business owners, who currently enjoy a priority under federal law for operating the vending machines at Interstate rest areas.
The Administration continues to push back its timeline for potential infrastructure legislation. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in early May that it's unlikely there will be an infrastructure bill in 2018.
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