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State officials bemoan lack of federal road funds« Thread St

Daily newsbrief journal for January 2005, also see for a global 100-page perpetual brief and follow twitter @usdemocrats

State officials bemoan lack of federal road funds« Thread St

Postby admin » Thu Jan 26, 2012 10:32 am

State officials bemoan lack of federal road funds« Thread Started on Jan 13, 2005, 10:37am » --------------------------------------------------------------------------------State officials bemoan lack of federal road fundsBy SAM BISHOP News-Miner Washington BureauWASHINGTON--State highway administrators this week asked Congress to break the time warp in which federal road spending has been trapped for more than a year.The administrators said delay in the passage of a new plan for federal spending on the nation's roads and transit systems is costing money and making their jobs difficult.Members of the group, which held a news conference Tuesday at the National Press Club, said they were less concerned with the precise dollar figure than with the delay.The government's previous six-year highway act expired on Sept. 30, 2003. Since then, Congress has been passing extensions that allow spending to continue at levels authorized by that act, known as the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, or TEA-21.Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska and chairman of the House Transportation Committee, last year secured House passage of a new bill. The Senate also passed a bill, but with a higher spending level. OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS SECTION 1/13/2005 - Wainwright troops move out - Woman: Church unsympathetic to abuse claims - Official: Software glitch thwarted missile test - Circle students get gym of their own - School-funding bonds for sale - Borough faces a busy agenda - Police Report - Power restored to homes in Kaktovik - Governor optimistic about future - Rocket motors arrive in Kodiak for test - Senator: Legislature should consider Renkes allegations - Delta third-graders to hold bake sale to aid tsunami victims - GOP legislators applaud development message However, facing pressure from the administration to keep spending down, the two sides couldn't agree before the end of the 108th Congress. In the end, they passed another extension until May 31.John Njord, executive director of the Utah Department of Transportation, said even waiting that long would cause trouble for states that must curtail work in the winter. "If we don't move by April 1, what we lose is another construction season," Njord said.Greg Cohen, president of the American Highway Users Alliance, said after the news conference that finishing by April 1 would be unlikely.Alaska officials, surveyed last year by the American Association of State Highway and Transit Officials, said they had reduced the state transportation spending plan for fiscal years 2004 through 2006 in response to the "unfortunate" lack of a federal bill."In downsizing the (plan) from our earlier estimates, at least $40 million per year was reduced," Alaska officials said in the survey. "All of this uncertainty is alarming."Young had originally pushed for a $375 billion, six-year bill. The Bush administration said it would veto anything over $256 billion. Young, acknowledging the administration's leverage, eventually acquiesced to a $284 billion bill last year.The Senate passed a $318 billion bill, though. Some senators wanted to stick with the higher figure, despite the administration's threats of a veto.The highway administrators said they are mystified by the Bush administration's position, even in the face of a half-trillion dollar federal deficit.John Horsley, AASHTO executive director, said congressional tax committees had certified that a six-year, $318 billion bill would have no effect on the deficit. That's because the money would not have to be borrowed. It would come from fuel taxes paid into the Highway Trust Fund.Pete Ruane, president of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, said any claim that highway spending adds to the deficit is a "red herring."Still, anything over $284 billion might require an increase in the gas tax, which President Bush opposes, one member of the panel acknowledged."In order to get any number above that, there has got to be some credible, politically feasible way of growing the program that has both the support of the administration and the leadership of the houses," said Stephen Sandherr, CEO of Associated General Contractors. "I think the job for us is to help them identify those credible, politically feasible ways to do it."Washington, D.C., reporter Sam Bishop can be reached at (202) 662-8721 or
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