Encouraging news came this week with U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci’s (R-Ohio) proposal to ensure sustainable funding for the Highway Trust Fund for no less than 10 years. According to the proposal, the “Highway Trust Fund continually spends billions of dollars more than it brings in. Since 2008, Congress has enacted six general fund transfers, totaling $62 billion in deficit spending, to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent.”
As previously reported, the U.S. infrastructure system is in desperate need of this funding. “Last year, America’s deteriorating roads cost drivers more than $67 billion in repairs and operating costs, or about $324 per driver,” Renacci said in a statement. Has Renacci, who is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, finally found an answer? Maybe so.
His proposal outlines a bipartisan approach to near-, mid- and long-term funding solutions. Renacci’s summary of the proposal captures the key components:
- Index the Gas and Diesel Tax.
- Establish a bipartisan bicameral Transportation Commission no later than Sept. 1, 2015. Require the commission to develop and recommend a long-term funding solution by Sept. 1, 2016.
- The House and Senate must pass and implement the Commission’s long-term funding recommendations OR pass and implement a solution that funds the HTF for at least three years by Dec. 31, 2016.
- If Congress fails to pass the commission’s recommendations or a funding solution that achieves at least three years of funding, the gas tax will automatically increase to a level sufficient to fund the three year shortfall. This increase would be about 3.5 cents.
- By the time the 4.7 years of funding expires, Congress must pass and implement any other option(s) that get a minimum of 5.3 years of funding, to reach a total of 10 years of funding.
- If Congress fails to fund the HTF through this period, the gas tax increases to fill the 5.3 year shortfall (10 years total).
Since its release, Renacci has received positive remarks from both sides. Renacci is slated to speak on this very issue during the 2015 IWLA Legislative Fly-in, April 28 & 29 in Washington D.C. Registration is open and Friday, April 10 is the final date to reserve your hotel at the Omni Shoreham at the reduced rate.