Bill would gut federal transportation program and give states control

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 6/15/2015

A bill in the U.S. House would gut the federal role in transportation and give states more control over how money is spent. OOIDA says truckers should be aware of the side effects of the so-called devolution bill, which would lead to more tolling as states look for ways to make up billions in shortfalls.

Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., filed the Transportation Empowerment Act, HR2716, on Thursday, June 10, and it currently resides in the House Ways and Means Committee.

According to text of the bill, the federal taxes on gasoline and diesel would be reduced a few cents per year through the year 2020. By then, the federal gas tax would be just 3.7 cents per gallon, down from 18.3 cents, and the diesel tax would be 5 cents per gallon, down from the current 24.3 cents.

The bill would leave it up to states to come up with the money to pay for transportation.

Trucking relies on a strong system of interstate, federal and state highways, OOIDA leadership says in its opposition to HR2716.

“Truckers move our nation’s freight and depend upon a robust, well-maintained and safe national highway system to do their jobs,” OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Ryan Bowley said.

Bowley says the bill puts little thought into how states would make up the tens of billions of dollars they receive annually from the federal government.

“It is no surprise that some of the most ardent proponents of devolution are also working to convince Congress to support a massive expansion of tolling on our nation’s roads,” Bowley said.

“The highway bill passed in 2012 included significant reforms to the federal highway program to put more dollars into critical road and bridge maintenance and improvements, and OOIDA is confident that Congress will continue to reduce project costs and better focus dollars on priorities. The best defense against tolls on our entire highway system is a well-funded federal highway program.”

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