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Transportation funding: summer’s biggest blockbuster

Suddenly, transportation funding is the topic de jour.

Last night, the House debated the measure that will set transportation spending levels for the coming fiscal year, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill. Among other controversial provisions, the bill would cut the popular TIGER grant program from $600 million today to $100 million. (You can read our full summary of the bill here.)

The TIGER cuts drew opposing statements from 13 Democrats and from the Obama Administration, which has called for an increase of TIGER funds to $1.25 billion. The Administration Monday declared its opposition to the THUD measure, citing in part a TIGER funding cut that “would reduce an already highly competitive grant program and its ability to support innovative projects across the United States.”

Meanwhile, both the House and the Senate are scrambling to find new ways to keep the highway trust fund solvent. With tax increases off the table in an election year as an expected shut-off of funding for new projects looms, both houses appear to be searching for short-term measures to plug the gap between lagging gas tax receipts and current spending levels.

As you may have heard, House Republicans have proposed to find the money by eliminating Saturday postal service and applying the savings (potentially up to $2 billion a year) to help fund the Highway Trust Fund. Interestingly, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, who has himself pushed to cut Saturday service, told interviewed by the Washington Post earlier this week that he was delighted by the idea.

However, this plan is not widely supported by either party. More than three-dozen House Republicans have signed a letter stating their opposition to five-day delivery service, and House Democrats do not see this as a viable fix for the funding gap.

In the Senate, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) have created a bipartisan plan that includes a one-time tax “holiday” for multinational corporations to bring profits home from overseas with a lucrative tax deduction. Such a move would yield a windfall of $20 billion to $30 billion over the next two years, they estimate.

While that would be enough to cover the projected trust-fund shortfall for a year or two, it would not solve the longterm problem. It also has drawn opposition from other key leaders who fear a longterm hit to the treasury if the profit repatriation is not tied to comprehensive corporate tax reform – changes that are far too complex to work through before the looming deadline.

Stay tuned. It’s going to an interesting summer.

1 Comment

  1. LMW

    10 years ago

    We are in 2014 and my recommendation to everyone is always to aim for the highest when it comes to safety. For a great while we saw nothing but fast and faster growth. If we took simple notice of the aim for safety in many sectors which is like safe walking, safe investing, safe driving, safe spending, safe behavior, safe schools, safe drinking, safe eating and so on. Its the way we can look at something and say where do we sit. For me a missing sidewalk, underneath a sidewalk is everything from water, sewage, gas, cable, landscape a whole lot of things that need to be on the table for growth and computing that growth for long term maintenance and funding mechanisms. This sidewalk is like a piece of furniture in a room. I believe in one fast area that can help everyone see where a discussion is worth bringing up. When we grew to the point of the financial collapse, a shift appeared to look at things a whole lot deeper because at a certain time there was a glance to look at what to pick from the tree the low or high fruit. I believe we picked from the low and it should of been from the high because the missing thing was a simple standard for everything. Science should help us know nobody should be left out of our fix in transportation. No existing program should be stopped unless a mechanism is in place to help the people effected by the changes because any movement like the ripple in the financial storm hurts.
    I live in a community surrounded by multinationals, a highway right on our frontage, railroad right behind, watch planes go right over our 216 newer family units in a mixed use development and very happy to live within proximity of these options made available so conveniently. I took great interest in the area and have strong support that if we build our communities or cities it should involve the WHOLE picture of economics with the right numbers. That includes effective guidance from federal reserve to SEC and the Dept of Transportation to even the issues in our schools. I started volunteering in my community because my experiences as a home owner and parent with childhood allowed me to feel useful to help the children in our complex realize things they need to know for their future. Cost is everything and if we are to afford our needs in transportation it may require the same needs our financial market needed. Regulation that is fair and soundness ato safend our ability to create a consistent and timely observation platform that can see out and broader viewing of the things that need to be in place for funding and policies available to counter the things that will not. I lost my dad in a car accident where he went off a bridge when I was 11 years old and I believe it is why transportation and a sidewalk meant a lot and our standard in public policing be up to par with reality in facing the affordability of securing public safety needs and its required resources to face crime. This place I live in has allowed me to see a few things that are mentioned here from Reid’s a one-time tax “holiday” for multinational corporations to bring profits home from overseas with a lucrative tax deduction. Is this Made in America? Because the world countries need to place there name in the empty space and we should be support that for all of them. Made in __________. Cost of living if high is nothing to celebrate if were sitting here putting on hold projects and wondering if infrastructure building is going to have a pause. Transportation funding has to be on a constant and separate system and although financial markets are not as predictable for us raising our standard in transportation would be effective if were sitting next to the same principles of securing our country’s future and security. Thanks to all the transportation advocates who are out there everyday trying to better our way of life. God bless everyone.

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