Dem governors push for long-term highway bill

Dem governors push for long-term highway bill

A group of 19 Democratic governors are pushing Congress to approve a long-term transportation funding measure. 

Federal transportation funding is currently set to expire on Oct. 29, and lawmakers are scrambling again to craft a temporary extension before the deadline hits. 

The Democratic governors said Monday in a leader to House and Senate leaders that Congress should pass a long-term highway bill instead to end a string of temporary extensions that has lasted for a decade. 

"The time has come for Congress to reaffirm and revitalize the federal-state partnership in transportation by passing long-term surface transportation reauthorization legislation," the governors wrote in a letter released by the Democratic Governors Association.

"Investments in transportation infrastructure are critical to supporting our communities and fostering long-term economic growth," they continued. "Conversely, failure to make these critical investments acts as a drag on the economy and threatens the safety and wellbeing of the citizens we all serve. States need long-term certainty in order to make these key investments in significant transportation projects. That kind of certainty requires a robust and long-term federal commitment. Short-run, patchwork solutions by Congress will not do." 

It has been ten years since Congress passed a highway bill that last longer than two years, much to the chagrin of transportation supporters who argue that states need longer to plan large infrastructure projects. 

There’s little doubt that some sort of highway funding extension will materialize before the Oct. 29 deadline. The Senate has passed a multiyear highway bill in the summer and the House has scheduled a long awaited marked up a six-year highway bill of its own for Oct. 22. 

There will likely not be enough time for the measure to work its way through the House before the deadline, however, meaning transportation advocates will have to settle for another extension. 

The Democratic governors said Congress should instead focus on finishing work on a long-term highway bill.  

"While we recognize and take seriously the magnitude of the infrastructure funding shortfall you confront, the current level of funding is insufficient to invest in America’s infrastructure in a way that strengthens our security and economy," they wrote. 

"We understand that Congress is currently considering several funding proposals," the Democratic governors continued. "Regardless of which proposals you ultimately choose, we urge you to act this year to advance a long-term proposal that sets our country on a path to bring our infrastructure back to a state of good repair.

"This is a matter of the utmost importance," they concluded. "No less than the economic wellbeing of our nation and the safety of our citizens are at stake." 

The letter was signed by Govs. Steve Bullock (D-Mont.); Dannel Malloy (D-Conn.); Jerry Brown (D-Calif.); John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.); Jack Markell (D-Del.); David Ige (D-Hawaii); Steve Beshear (D-Ky.); Mark Dayton (D-Minn.); Jay Nixon (D-Miss.); Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.); Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.); Kate Brown (D-Ore.); Tom Wolf (D-Pa.); Alejandro García Padilla (D-Puerto Rico); Gina Raimondo (D-R.I.); Peter Shumlin (D-Vt.); Terry McAuliffe (D-Va.); Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) and Earl Ray Tomblin (D-W. Va.).