Ray LaHood joins PPP group, then promotes fuel-tax increase

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | Friday, May 23, 2014

Former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently joined a group that makes its money in public private partnerships, but he’s also on record as supporting an increase in federal fuel taxes.

Earlier this week, private investment group Meridiam Infrastructure hired LaHood as a consultant. The group manages 32 public-private infrastructure projects around the world including a $1.3 billion segment of the North Tarrant Expressway in Texas.

LaHood was a guest speaker on Wednesday, May 21, during the annual ALK Transportation and Technology Summit in Princeton, N.J.

It was at the summit he reiterated statements he made back in February that a 10-cent increase in federal fuel taxes, indexed to inflation, would shore up the Highway Trust Fund and put America back in the driver’s seat for infrastructure investment.

His stance on fuel taxes is a far cry from the position he held while transportation secretary from 2009 through July 2013. He was quoted many times as secretary as saying the White House could not support raising fuel taxes at least not during a recession or slow economic recovery.

After he left his government post, but before he joined Meridiam Infrastructure, LaHood joined and is still a part of a group called Building America’s Future alongside former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Building America’s Future recognizes the importance of the fuel tax as the chief funding mechanism for the Highway Trust Fund but also supports proposals for tolling, infrastructure banks, public-private partnerships and a possible tax on vehicle miles traveled.

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