Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, on March 22 introduced legislation that he said will generate nearly $500 billion to rebuild U.S. roads, bridges and transit systems.
“Investing in America: A Penny for Progress” authorizes the U.S. Department of Treasury to sell 30-year Invest in America Bonds annually through 2030 that would generate nearly $500 billion in additional revenues for the Highway Trust Fund that must be put toward authorized highway and transportation projects.
The bill indexes gas and diesel user fees beginning in 2017 to the National Highway Construction Cost Index and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards as a means of repaying the bonds. Gas and diesel user fees would increase about 1 cent per year with a 1.5 cent per year cap.
NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings applauded Congressman DeFazio for his leadership in putting forth a proposal to boost revenues into the Highway Trust Fund that prioritizes direct federal spending on infrastructure.
“This proposal will stop us from losing ground on the motor fuels tax, which hasn’t increased since 1993, while providing real growth and real money for the Highway Trust Fund,” Mullings said in a statement. “I commend Congressman DeFazio and his staff for their diligence and hard work in developing an efficient, sustainable solution for addressing the nation’s infrastructure funding needs that ensures sufficient funds to support a vibrant and healthy infrastructure network into the future.”
NATSO believes that the motor fuels tax remains the most equitable and efficient method of collecting infrastructure revenues, with nearly 99 percent of all funds collected put toward the Highway Trust Fund.
Mullings said that positive solutions like this avoid the need for inefficient and counter-productive revenue-raising mechanisms such as tolling or commercializing rest areas, which harm highway users, interstate-based businesses and the local communities in which they operate.
Congressman DeFazio said that he has discussed his proposal with the White House. President Trump campaigned on the promise of a $1 trillion infrastructure package paid for largely by private investment.
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