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As the looming Highway Trust Fund (HTF) revenue shortfall draws nearer, it is imperative that Congress acts immediately to find a temporary patch, until a long-term funding solution can be identified and adopted. As the US Department of Transportation ticker shows, the Highway Account of the HTF is expected to incur a shortfall in August, while the Mass Transit Account is solvent only through the end of the current Fiscal Year (FY). In early FY 2015, the Mass Transit Account will also incur a revenue shortfall.
Both transit agencies and state departments of transportation depend on timely distributions from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to fund crucial projects. The USDOT estimates that the nation has an $87 billion backlog of bus and rail projects that require funding, along with one in four bridges in need of repair or replacement, and simple road deterioration costing drivers, on average, an extra $324 annually. These, along with many other examples, are the types of projects that will slow down or halt without a solution. If the problem continues into next year, the revenue shortfall could also lead to reductions of service, for those agencies that use significant Federal funding for operations and preventive maintenance.
USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, in a letter to transit agencies, laid out the beginning of the Administration’s plan to curtail reimbursements to agencies. The Administration, in its budget request and GROW AMERICA Act proposal, sought increased funding for public transportation over a four-year authorization. However, it is urgent that Congress address the short term HTF revenue problem now, to ensure that there is no slow down or reduction in reimbursements of transit and highway obligations in the near term. At this time it is critical for Congress to take the necessary steps to pass a revenue solution that can secure bipartisan, bicameral support and provide financial relief immediately.
This issue is of the utmost importance to the future of the public transportation industry and the riders who use and depend upon buses and trains. We ask that you take action immediately.
- Call your Members of Congress – both your Representative and your Senators. Ask that they work with their colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find both a short and long term solution, to ensure the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund.
- You can find their contact information here.
- Whether you are a parts manufacturer, transit rider or agency employee, relay your views on the importance of continued investment in public transportation and the impact transit has on your life.
Potential Finance Committee Markup on Thursday
The Senate Committee on Finance is scheduled to hold a markup tomorrow on Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden’s (D-OR) proposed short term solution to the Highway Trust Fund revenue crisis. Senator Wyden's Preserving America’s Transit and Highways Act provides a $9 billion increase in HTF revenues, as well an extension of expenditure authority for highway and transit programs through the end of calendar year 2014. Included in the bill as offsets to the revenue increase are; an increase on the existing tax on heavy trucks; an increase in revenue due to better collection practices related to the home mortgage interest deduction; a longer statute of limitations on overstatement of basis; expected payment of tax bills by revoking the passports of people with outstanding tax debts; and, by closing an estate tax planning loophole on IRAs and 401(k) plans. Over 50 amendments had been filed with the Senate Finance Committee as of late Wednesday afternoon. However, Republicans on the Finance Committee, as well as members of the House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means are expected to offer competing proposals in the coming days and weeks.
Today, APTA joined other partner organizations of the Americans for Transportation Mobility Coalition and the Transportation Construction Coalition in a letter to the Senate Committee on Finance, urging immediate action on this important issue. The letter notes that if the HTF is unable to support any new funding as of October 1, 2014, the result would be a one-time investment cut of nearly $50 billion that would threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs in 2015.