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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Industry groups call on Congress to protect transit, highway funding

A coalition of transportation, business and labor organizations — including the American Public Transportation Association and Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) — are urging congressional budget committee leaders to ensure the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) is adequately funded after the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act expires in 2020.

In an April 7 letter to budget leaders, the industry groups asked that they protect the HTF, which includes the Mass Transit Account, as they craft a fiscal-year 2018 budget that will take effect Oct. 1, according to the AASHTO Journal.

The FAST Act includes annual "modest" increases in the trust fund's highway and transit programs, the letter notes. However, "there will be a nearly $20 billion average annual shortfall between existing revenue and the amount needed to prevent cuts in highway and public transportation investment once the FAST Act expires," the letter states.

"The HTF's revenue challenges and the resulting consequences on other parts of the federal budget and U.S. economy warrant a long-term solution to stabilize and grow federal surface transportation investment as part of any tax reform initiative," it says. "To facilitate achievement of that goal, we urge you to include instructions in the FY 2018 budget resolution calling on the relevant tax and authorizing committees to develop legislation to permanently address the trust fund’s structural revenue deficit."

Additionally, the FY2018 budget should at least assume full funding of the FAST Act's authorizations, as well as include a reserve fund to allow investment levels to increase if trust fund resources are generated by tax reform or other legislation, the letter adds.

The industry groups also noted that a long-term funding solution to the HTF would achieve many economic objectives of both political parties.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/17/2017