Much talk in Congress on highway funding, but no bill yet

Much talk in Congress on highway funding, but no bill yet

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing last week on highway funding set to run out May 31, 2015 but despite a few proposals, no bill is being seriously discussed.

For the past six years, Congress has used temporary patches to pay for transportation infrastructure. Without a new bill, the Highway Trust Fund will go bankrupt in just over two months, and states say they would have to cancel road projects.

Transportation advocates have suggested a user fee through a hike in the gas tax, but no one in Congress wants to raise taxes. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chair of the transportation committee, has said he wonêt support a gas tax increase. GOP budgets from the House and Senate include no funding for transportation.

Shuster has said he will push for a long-term bill rather than another short-term funding measure, and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says a long-term bill makes much more sense. But where to find the money? The idea that appears to have the most support now is to raise money from a tax on overseas corporate profits, but the two parties canêt agree on how to do that. The longer the process drags on, the more likely a short-term fix becomes.

States may be forced to take measures into their own hands. Last week, Utah raised its gas tax by 5 cents and South Dakota upped its tax by 6 cents. Maryland and Virginia both raised their gas tax in comprehensive transportation bills last year.

Download Bulletin PDF