Govs to Congress: ‘Stabilize’ highway funding

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A bipartisan group of 17 governors is urging lawmakers to “stabilize” the trust fund that is used to pay for transportation projects.

The Department of Transportation’s Highway Trust Fund has been projected to run out of money in September.

The governors, who are all members of the National Transportation Coalition, said in a letter to the top members of the House and Senate’s Transportation committees that the projected bankruptcy is “creating great uncertainty about the viability of our long-term transportation improvement plans.

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“States across the nation are undertaking a variety of approaches to provide sufficient resources to fund our state transportation programs,” the governors wrote. “We urge you to act as soon as possible to stabilize the Highway Trust Fund’s revenue situation for the long-term so the successful federal-state partnership that created the Interstate Highway System can deliver the national surface transportation network our nation requires.”

The trust fund has traditionally been funded by the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax, which is also set to expire in September without additional congressional action.

The highway trust fund is facing an approximately $20 billion shortfall because the gas tax brings is about $35 billion year, well below the current transportation funding level of $54 billion.

The governors said the situation was untenable for states that are counting on being awarded federal money for transportation projects.

“We appreciate your leadership in passing a resoundingly bipartisan reauthorization of the federal highway, public transportation and safety programs in 2012,” the governors wrote. “We are very concerned, however, that the reauthorization did not provide a long-term revenue solution to address the growing shortfall between revenue going in the Highway Trust Fund and the amount necessary even to maintain current federal investment levels for these programs.”

The governors issued a dire warning about Congress letting the September deadline for reauthorizing transportation funding pass.

“If remedial action is not taken in a timely manner, the consequences would harm the economy of every state,” the governors wrote.

The letter was signed by Govs. Mike Beebe (D-Ark.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), Pat Quinn (D-Ill.), Martin O’Malley (D-Md.), Mark Dayton (DFL-Minn.), Steve Bullock (D-Mont.), Pat McCrory (R-N.C.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jack Dalrymple (R-N.D.), John Kitzhaber (D-Ore.), Tom Corbett (R-Pa.), Lincoln Chafee (D-R.I.), Dennis Daugaard (R-S.D.), Peter Shumlin (D-Vt.), Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) and Scott Walker (R-Wis.). 

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