Texas to be hit HARD by transportation funding crisis

Link to article here. Just plan on dumping your wallet, your life savings, and your first born on the government’s doorstep because that’s what they’re coming after to pay for transportation…never mind that most states have been running record surpluses (which means you’ve been OVERTAXED, not undertaxed). What we have is out of control spending on both the State and Federal levels, diversions of gas taxes to frivolous or non-transportation related fluff like building a private parking lot for a private university or mineral rights litigation, and downright stupidity on the part of politicians.

Read it and weep…

“To keep up with building and preserving highways, Congress should raise the 18.4-cent federal gas tax by a dime, or enact some other equivalent, and states should double toll revenues to $16 billion a year and also raise other taxes and fees, the association’s board recently said.

Dampening the growth of driving, slicing projections by a fourth, and quadrupling transit ridership over the next 50 years…”

Trouble down the road for highway funding
By Patrick Driscoll
Express News
08/08/2007

IRVING — Ninety years ago, the federal transportation vision was to get farmers out of the mud.Fifty years ago, it was to build coast-to-coast highways without stoplights.

Today, it’s a patchwork of confusion mired in desperate debate.

As policymakers argue whether to build toll roads and rent them to corporations, or raise gas taxes, or use high-tech gadgetry to track and charge motorists for every mile they drive, the federal highway fund is draining fast.

By 2009, the fund will be in the hole by almost $4 billion, according to the latest estimates.

“We’re headed for a meltdown,” said U.S. Rep. John Mica of Florida, the ranking Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “It’s going to be much more than a bridge that collapses.”

But that just may be what it takes to spur lawmakers into action, said Mica, the keynote speaker at Wednesday’s luncheon of the four-day annual Transportation Summit.

“Sometimes, it takes a crisis to get Congress to do something,” he told an audience of about 600. “If we do nothing, I can tell you, from sea to shining sea we’ll have nothing but a big parking lot.”

Mica said he’s ready to act, announcing his goal to come up with a plan. He marveled at how recent presidents, including George W. Bush, and lawmakers have failed to do that, though a congressional commission is now working on it.

“Shame on Congress and past administrations,” said Mica, who’s served in the House since 1992.

Though he has no details, Mica said the plan should define what’s needed, what oversight the federal government should have and how people should pay.

And pay they must, said John Horsley, director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, who also spoke at the luncheon.

To keep up with building and preserving highways, Congress should raise the 18.4-cent federal gas tax by a dime, or enact some other equivalent, and states should double toll revenues to $16 billion a year and also raise other taxes and fees, the association’s board recently said.

Dampening the growth of driving, slicing projections by a fourth, and quadrupling transit ridership over the next 50 years also are keys, the group says.

“Those are some of the tough choices that we’re looking at,” Horsley said.

When pressed, Mica wouldn’t say whether the gas tax should be raised but did say that wouldn’t be enough.

“We need a fundamental change in the way we finance our infrastructure,” he said. “This could be a great opportunity for this country.”

Such a change includes figuring out what role private investments and toll roads should play, and considering a mileage-based tax now being tested in places such as Oregon, Mica said.

Also, the nation must get serious about developing high-speed passenger and freight rail.

“Think of the opportunities if we had high-speed rail around the United States,” he said.

As the talk continues, so does the dwindling of federal transportation funds.

Congress has cut promised funds to states five times since last year and may do so again in next year’s budget. Texas lost $666 million so far and could soon be out another $259 million.

“To be clear, this is $666 million that (Texas) and local communities will no longer be able to count on,” said Fred Underwood, who serves on the Texas Transportation Commission.

0 Replies to “Texas to be hit HARD by transportation funding crisis”

  1. Dave Ramos

    Of course, the big elephant in the room is the diversion of the gas tax-funds for pork projects, earmarks ($3.7 million annually to West Virginia since 2002 to study the habits of butterflies!!).

    If Congress merely cut the pork and the diversions, we would be awash in funds for road and bridges (and the next time you get your TX license-plate renewal in the mail, be sure and notice that there is a special fee assessed specifically for bridges!)

    DR

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