Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 26, 2014

Posts in "Budget"

October 17, 2014

The Container’s Friday Q&A: ARTBA’s Peter Ruane, Part Two

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Peter Ruane, president of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Here is the second part of our interview with Peter Ruane, president of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.

In Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton is talking about a new sales tax on gasoline, in addition to the state’s 28.6 cents per gallon tax on gasoline. I think Virginia made a similar move last year.

What do you make of states trying to make some revenue changes on their own to pay for transportation projects?

We had seven states do this last year, on their own, either passed a state gasoline tax increase or some form of that, a sales tax, some creative ways to bring recurring revenue. That the key word: recurring.

If Minnesota goes in that direction, I think that’s outstanding. Some of that is a reflection of their lack of faith that the feds are going to do their job and come up with a solution to the [shortfall in] the Highway Trust Fund.

 

There’s a lot of talk now about vehicle-to-vehicle communications and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications.

For example, if you had a vehicle-to-infrastructure system, it could relay information about traffic patterns and potholes back to the transportation authority.

But Bob Poole at the Reason Foundation has said that if you’re talking about embedding information technology in highways, bridges, overpasses, etc., it’s an immensely expensive idea.

It is very topical and there’s an awful lot out there. All the big auto companies have put out a lot of information on this lately and have made commitments that they’re going to accelerate their research.

We welcome it. Those kind of improvements are going to lead to gains in the safety area: we will see fewer accidents and fewer lives lost.

But there was an article in the Wall Street Journal recently and the headline was “The Internet of Asphalt Will Take a Long Time to Pave.”

We are all in favor of ITS [intelligent transportation systems], but don’t use it as a red herring. Don’t let these sexy technological solutions distract us from the immediate thing in front of us. Let’s deal with the Trust Fund, deal with the urgent situation we have right now.

The Container’s Friday Q&A: ARTBA’s Peter Ruane, Part One

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Congress is facing the need to come up with new revenue sources for highway funding. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

Peter Ruane, president of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, is one of Washington’s most forceful advocates for infrastructure spending.

We discussed with him whether Congress can devise a long-term solution to the nation’s infrastructure funding dilemma. Full story

October 9, 2014

Minnesota Governor Wants New Tax For Infrastructure

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Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, is running for a second term (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

In a debate Wednesday night, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, proposed a wholesale state sales tax on gasoline to raise revenue to pay for transportation infrastructure. He said the tax would raise close to the $6.5 billion the state needs for infrastructure projects over the next 10 years.

The state already has a 28.6 cents per gallon tax on gasoline.

Full story

October 3, 2014

Report Urges Life Cycle Infrastructure Cost Analysis

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Transportation Secretary Foxx and President Obama tour a light rail facility in St. Paul, Minn. last February. (Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

If you build in 2015, budget for maintenance in 2025, 2035 and beyond.

That’s one message of a report this week from the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Eno Center for Transportation, a Washington think tank.

Full story

October 2, 2014

The Container Interviews Foxx On Transportation Funding, Part Two

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Secretary Foxx with President Obama at an event in July (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Here is the second part of our interview Tuesday with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Do you get any sign from Congress that the Grow America Act or some surface transportation bill could be taken up in the lame-duck session?

We’re starting to see members introducing components of the Grow America Act. We have some activity along those lines on the House side and some even on the Senate side…. That’s encouraging. Frankly, it’s encouraging to hear members on a bipartisan basis express a desire to get something done.

Full story

October 1, 2014

The Container Interviews Foxx on Paying for Transportation, Part One

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Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has been traveling across the country to announce grants for state and local projects and to make the case for the Obama administration’s transportation bill, the Grow America Act.

We had an exclusive interview with Foxx on Tuesday. He spoke with us from Los Angeles where he was taking part in the groundbreaking of the Los Angeles Regional Connector, a light rail transit project connecting three existing lines.

Full story

September 23, 2014

Manufacturers Say Bigger Infrastructure Investment Would Boost Incomes

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The giant drill nicknamed “Harriet” bores a section of the Port of Miami tunnel last year. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The National Association of Manufacturers renewed its call Tuesday for more infrastructure spending, issuing a report saying that “infrastructure spending has been on a decade-long decline” and that “when measured in proportion to GDP, the downward trajectory of infrastructure investment becomes even more stark and worrisome.”

Full story

September 18, 2014

House Unanimously Votes To Cut TSA Security Fees

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Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., sponsored the fee rollback legislation (Photo By Douglas Graham/Roll Call)

Travel industry leaders are applauding a unanimous House vote Wednesday to roll back Transportation Security Administration fees.

The 2013 budget accord had increased the security-related fees to $5.60 per one-way trip. Previously, the fee had been $2.50 per enplanement (boarding a flight) with a cap of $10.

Full story

By Tom Curry Posted at 10:12 a.m.
Aviation, Budget, Travel

September 17, 2014

Earmark Nostalgia Still Strong Among Some Members

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Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Mass.

Nostalgia for earmarks — voiced in May by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and in July by Reps. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and Tom Cole, R-Okla. — was heard again Wednesday at a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee press conference.

Regretting the ban, which House Republican leaders imposed on appropriations earmarks in 2011, Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., R-Tenn., said, “That was one of the biggest mistakes that we ever made. We didn’t save any money; we just put more power in the bureaucracy.”

Full story

July 22, 2014

House to Vote on Tourism Promotion Effort — With Deficit Reduction Bonus

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Tourists look at a map outside the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington on July 19. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

The next time you overhear French tourists visiting your city or town, don’t forget to say “Merci beaucoup”  to them for doing their part in deficit reduction.

On Tuesday the House will vote on a bill that in effect taxes certain visitors to the United States to pay for a marketing effort to encourage other foreigners to come visit. The Congressional Budget Office says the bill will reduce cumulative deficits over 10 years by $231 million, since the revenues would exceed the money to be spent on marketing.

Full story

July 18, 2014

‘Pension Smoothing,’ the Highway Trust Fund’s Temporary Friend

The 10-month Highway Trust Fund bill that the House passed last week is hardly the first piece of legislation that features a mishmash of pay-for provisions intended to keep it from increasing the deficit. This time around, one of the primary revenue-raisers ($6.4 billion worth) is a “pension smoothing” provision.

Never heard of that accounting maneuver? CQ Roll Call’s Emma Dumain and David Harrison explain it this way: Full story

July 16, 2014

Republicans Blame Obama for Blocking Multi-Year Transportation Bill in 2009 (Video)

House Republicans reached back to recent history yesterday to rebut Democratic critics who blame them for not working on a multi-year transportation authorization bill.

Why, they demanded, did President Barack Obama not push for a multi-year transportation bill at height of his power in 2009 when his party controlled both branches of Congress?

Full story

July 15, 2014

An Earmark Revival? ‘Suggestion’ Earns Bipartisan Praise

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Cole. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House Rules Committee – where the majority party always wins and the votes always split along party lines – was the setting Monday evening for a momentary bipartisan call to bring back earmarks as a way to lubricate passage of transportation bills.

Earmarks – money in authorization or appropriations bills that was targeted to benefit a specific congressional district or a particular project – were banned by the House in 2011.

Full story

July 14, 2014

Heritage Action ‘Key Votes’ the House’s Highway Trust Fund Vote

As the House Rules Committee was about to take up a bill Monday to replenish the Highway Trust fund, the conservative advocacy group Heritage Action made this week’s floor vote on the bill a “key vote” for its scorecard. This sets the stage for an election-year litmus test for Republican lawmakers.

Full story

A Crowded Week Ahead for Transportation Advocates and Policymakers

The nation’s capital will be busy with transportation events this week:

On Monday, the Energy Department’s Energy Information Agency starts its annual conference. Among the speakers will be the head of a company controversially involved in rail shipments of Bakken crude oil from North Dakota, Global Partners president and CEO Eric Slifka.

Full story

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