Friday, August 1, 2014

Congress Throws The Highway Trust Fund a Temporary Lifeline

Washington-(S2N Media) July 31st 2014.  Before leaving for their August recess, Congress acted to extend the Highway Trust Fund. This 11th hour move by Congress avoids nationwide construction shutdowns and the loss of thousands of jobs.

The Highway Trust Fund provides the majority of transportation funding necessary to repair and maintain the nation's roads, bridges, and railroads. It is funded from a federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon on gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon on diesel.

The short-term bill, good thru March 2015, will channel as much as $11bn into the fund through a technique called pensions smoothing. This will temporarily raise tax revenues from companies, and an increase in customs fees.

However, passing dozens of short-term patches is not a solution to the long-term infrastructure problem. Congress needs to make provisions for long-term investment in American infrastructure. The fact that the American Society of Civil Engineers graded the nation's infrastructure a 'D+' should be reason enough for lawmakers to draft a resolution that addresses at least a decade beyond 2015.

In short, Congress threw a lifeline to those projects and employees that depend up funding from the bill. Democrats want to deal with a longer-term fix during the lame-duck session after the November elections

Long-term measures and provisions would provide realistic opportunities to repair and renovate the nearly 8,000 bridges in this country that could collapse anytime in the future. It would also pave the way for serious investing in 21st-century programs like faster broadband and high-speed rail.

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