If bill passes, 100 percent of fuel taxes would stay with highways

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | Friday, February 03, 2012

If the House version of transportation and funding were to become law, 100 percent of motor fuel taxes would go to fund highways, ending years of policy that requires 20 cents on every dollar be used for mass transit.

“It’s huge that somebody would propose this,” said OOIDA Director of Legislative Affairs Ryan Bowley. This is what House Republicans are proposing to do – to return the Highway Trust Fund to funding just highways.”

The House Ways and Means Committee marked up the financial portion of a multiyear surface transportation authorization bill on Friday, Feb. 3, just hours after the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee wrapped up 17 hours of debate on its way to advancing the bill to the House floor.

Historically, the Highway Trust Fund has included a 20 percent set-aside known as the Mass Transit Account. The Ways and Means Committee moved to transfer the transit account out of the Highway Trust Fund and into the General Fund under a title of Alternative Transportation Fund.

“Right now, for the average trucker, 20 cents of every dollar they pay in diesel taxes goes to fund the purchase of inner city buses and subways and light rail systems across the country,” Bowley said. “Now, under this proposal, that 20 percent would be returned to fund highways.”

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-MI, issued a statement justifying the need to balance the Highway Trust Fund.

“Because infrastructure spending has consistently outpaced Highway Trust Fund revenues, we have been propping up the Trust Fund with deficit-financed transfers from the General Fund,” he stated.

“As a result, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has recently estimated that the Highway Trust Fund will run out of money for highway projects in Fiscal Year 2013 and for mass transit projects in Fiscal Year 2014.”

Bowley points out that the bill has not passed yet and still must undergo debate on the House floor, which could happen as soon as the week of Feb. 13. If the provision stays afloat past the House debate, the Senate must still vote on it.

Copyright © OOIDA

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