Amendments Would Fix Transportation Funding Gap

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The House is about to consider a 3-year highway bill financed with revenue unrelated to transportation. But two lawmakers are suggesting alternative plans to address the Highway Trust Fund’s long-term insolvency.

Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) recently filed separate amendments to the highway bill.

Trust fund income — collected mostly from motor fuels taxes — has lagged transportation spending for years, with lawmakers refusing to raise or replace fuel taxes. Instead, they have relied on general revenue and budget gimmicks. Unfortunately, the House Rules Committee did not include either amendment in the final bill. However, both point to a more sustainable method of replenishing the Highway Trust Fund over the long term.

Renacci’s amendment would create a bipartisan commission to find a new revenue source. If Congress fails to enact the commission’s proposal or an alternative by the end of 2018, periodic increases in fuel taxes would be triggered to cover trust fund spending through 2025. His plan would also index fuel taxes to inflation after 2025.

Blumenauer’s proposal would raise fuel taxes by 15 cents a gallon to roughly where they would have been if they had been indexed to inflation in 1993, the last time Congress increased the taxes. His proposal also indexes fuel taxes to inflation.

Authorization for transportation programs expires Nov. 20, around the time the Transportation Department says the trust fund will have to begin delaying and cutting payments for highway projects.

External links:
Rep. Blumenauer Statement on Gas Tax Proposal
Rep. Renacci’s Amendment
How to Fix the Highway Trust Fund (Concord)

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