Rep. Shuster: Obama budget missing transportation funding source

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"One of the most essential questions in this debate is how do we finance infrastructure maintenance and improvements without adding to our debt," the House Transportation Committee chairman said.

"The president’s budget repeats his call to increase spending without identifying a viable means to pay for it," Shuster continued. "We can’t just keep adding to our tab and expect future generations to foot the bill. We have the responsibility to address America’s infrastructure needs with an equally responsible solution that doesn’t burden our children with more debt."

In his budget proposal, Obama called for an expansion of the transportation bill that was passed by lawmakers last summer, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), in 2015.

Transportation advocates have said the funding that was included in the MAP-21 bill was barely enough to stretch the surface of the nation's road and transit needs. The measure was funded in large part with a series of one-time trust fund sweeps and fee increases.

The traditional funding mechanism for transportation projects, the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gas tax, only brings in approximately $35 billion per year.

The gas tax collection is expected to get even smaller as cars become more fuel efficient.

Shuster said Wednesday afternoon that he welcomed "the president’s interest in addressing the nation’s infrastructure needs.

"These issues are critical to the country’s economic growth and competitiveness in the global marketplace," he said. "I remain committed to working with everyone, across the aisle and across the country, to continue reforming programs, focus our resources where they are most needed, and build consensus on how to responsibly meet the needs of our nation’s aging infrastructure.”

The House Transportation Committee is expected to begin working on a new version of the surface transportation bill as early as this year.

The current MAP-21 bill, which includes about $50 billion per year for road and transit projects, is scheduled to expire in September 2014.