By Keith Laing
“We commend Chairman Mica on his new direction for surface transportation and the outline of changes that can deliver a more effective and efficient federal transportation program," said Chamber of Commerce Executive Director of Transportation and Infrastructure Janet Kavinoky in statement last week. "We agree with the Chairman that ‘the American people want the federal government to ensure their hard-earned tax dollars are wisely and effectively invested in improvements for the nation’s infrastructure.’
"Unfortunately, while his legislation tracks the Chamber’s recommendations for reauthorization, it does not in terms of funding," she continued. "It is clear the Committee has been constrained by the House-passed budget as the investment levels are unacceptable. Cuts will destroy – rather than support — existing jobs and will not enable creation of the additional jobs needed to put the 16.3% of unemployed workers in the construction industry back to work."
Mica countered in his letter that his "primary priority is to produce a long-term reauthorization bill to provide states with the certainty they require for large-scale infrastructure planning."
"The best way forward to protect the future of transportation investment in America and protect the existence of the [Highway] Trust Fund is to reform programs and demonstrate to the American people that the fund can once again return tangible value to its paying uses," Mica wrote. "It is truly disheartening that the Chamber would rather sit on the sidelines and complain about a lack of a gas tax increase to accompany an infrastructure bill instead of engaging in a constructive discussion on policies we can employ to open new doors for private sector investment in our national infrastructure, eliminate red tape and bureaucracy and engage American enterprise."