October 19, 2005


Don't Tread On Us (Andrew T. Gillies, 10.19.05, Forbes)

[O]fficials from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association are watching their rear as they move on to their next big project: reauthorization of the highway bill in 2009. [...]

After all, this year's $287 billion package, although 32% over 1998 levels and $40 billion above the Bush Administration's initial proposal, still wasn't all that the highway lobby wanted. In an August speech, Peter Ruane, ARTBA's chief executive, characterized the new law as a "missed opportunity."

How so? Congress didn't, as the lobby sought, link transportation funding to estimates on U.S. infrastructure needs from the U.S. Department of Transportation and elsewhere. Although the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure moved in that direction with a $375 billion bill, it eventually backed off, given paltry support among other House members for "revenue enhancers" like a hike in fuel taxes.

But ARTBA is hardly backing away from its full-funding goal. "I think that's the logical next step for where this program ought to go," says William Buechner, ARTBA's vice president for economics and research.

Underlying that logic: a gloomy outlook for the financial state of the Highway Trust Fund, or the money collected for roads and transit spending via certain taxes on sales of fuel, tires and so on. According to projections from the Congressional Budget Office, the difference between revenue collected and highway outlays will be in the red from fiscal 2006 to 2009.

Remember, the Welfare Queen who Ronald Reagan used to talk about was just another car owner.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 19, 2005 1:14 PM
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