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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

AASHTO weighs in on Highway Trust Fund solutions

As two congressional hearings were scheduled this week on federal Highway Trust Fund, the president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) called on Congress to support long-term funding to maintain the fund's solvency.

AASHTO President John Cox, who also is director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation, noted in his written testimony that the trust fund provided stable and reliable funding for highway and transit programs for nearly 60 years.

"However, over the past seven years, this has not been the case. Since almost $62 billion has been transferred from the General Fund to the Highway Trust Fund to keep it solvent," said Cox, in a prepared statement.

Cox delivered his testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee, which yesterday held its hearing. The Senate Finance Committee is slated to hold its hearing today. Cox urged Congress to find an "implementable and viable set of revenue solutions" to maintain the trust fund.

"There is ample documented evidence that shows infrastructure investment is critical for long-term economic growth, increasing productivity, employment, household income, and exports," Cox wrote. "Conversely, without prioritizing our nation's infrastructure needs, deteriorating conditions can produce a severe drag on the overall economy. Whichever revenue tools are utilized, at a minimum, it is crucial to identify solutions that will sustain the MAP-21 level of surface transportation investment in real terms."

Meanwhile, House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said yesterday that he is against raising the federal gas tax as a solution to help pay for a long-term extension of surface transportation funding, which is set to expire July 31, The Hill reported.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/18/2015