DeFazio, Norton Urge DOT to Let States Experiment with Alternative Funding Mechanisms for Highway Trust Fund
Washington, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Ranking Member of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) urged U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx to quickly make grant funds available to states so they can experiment with alternate ways to finance the Highway Trust Fund in a manner that will provide long-term certainty to state and local governments.
In December 2015, Congress passed the FAST Act, a five-year surface transportation reauthorization bill. While the bill was fully paid for, it did not resolve long-term solvency challenges of the Highway Trust Fund. To help address this problem, the FAST Act establishes the Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives program, which provides up to $95 million to enable States to test and demonstrate innovative methods to fund needed infrastructure improvements. These tests will be critical to identifying a sustainable, long-term revenue stream for surface transportation investment.
DeFazio and Norton write, “To ensure that we are not in the same position four years from now, we must immediately begin to identify real, workable funding solutions to carry our surface transportation programs through the 21st century.” “A safe, efficient surface transportation network is fundamentally necessary to our quality of life and our economy. But we cannot fund this network relying on current Highway Trust Fund revenues,” the letter continues.
The letter goes on to urge DOT to make implementation of this critical grant program a priority so states have as much time as possible to test new funding alternatives.
The full text of the letter is below.
January 7, 2016
The Honorable Anthony Foxx
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, S.E.
Washington, DC 20590
Dear Secretary Foxx:
The enactment of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) (P.L. 114-94) provides desperately needed long-term certainty for States and local governments to plan and implement transportation projects. Thank you for all of your support during the development of this bill and throughout congressional consideration.
As you know, the FAST Act is a five-year, fully paid-for surface transportation reauthorization act that provides reliable funding for transportation infrastructure investment and avoids more short-term patches. However, as the President indicated upon signing the bill, we still have work to do.
The FAST Act is a great achievement, but it does not resolve the long-term solvency challenges of the Highway Trust Fund. To ensure that we are not in the same position four years from now, we must immediately begin to identify real, workable funding solutions to carry our surface transportation programs through the 21st century.
To help address this pressing challenge, the FAST Act establishes the Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives program. P.L. 114-94, Division A, Section 6020. This program provides grants to States to demonstrate user-based alternative revenue mechanisms that utilize a user fee structure to maintain the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund. We believe States are the laboratories of democracy, and the FAST Act provides the necessary funding to incentivize States to explore novel user fee structures that provide sustainable transportation funding.
We urge you to make this critical grant program a priority as the Department implements the FAST Act, to ensure States have as much time as possible to test various funding alternatives. A safe, efficient surface transportation network is fundamentally necessary to our quality of life and our economy. But we cannot fund this network relying on current Highway Trust Fund revenues.
Thank you for your consideration.
PETER DeFAZIO ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON
Ranking Member Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Highways and Transit