Heavy Duty Trucking

JUL 2014

The Fleet Business Authority

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t 10 HDT • JULY 2014 www.truckinginfo.com As Highway Trust Fund drains away, Congress looks for a remedy WASHINGTON Oliver B. Patton • Washington Editor WASHINGTON report Trust Fund to keep the Highway Trust Fund whole. Boehner said the House needs more time to come up with long-term structural reforms. "The serious work needed to develop acceptable poli- cies to achieve structural reform has not been done yet," he said. But this approach does not have much traction in the House (newly elected Majority Leader Kevin Mc- Carthy, R-Calif., said it did not have enough votes) and was panned by transporta- tion leaders in the Senate. Sen. Tom Carper, D- Del., a leading proponent of raising the federal fuel tax, said the proposal is "a non-starter." "It kicks the can down the road yet again on two pressing issues — fixing the Postal Service and the Highway Trust Fund — and fails to solve either problem," he said. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D- Calif., chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, de- scribed the plan as "strange." "This idea is a jobs killer which does not even fund the Highway Trust Fund for a long enough period of time to provide the certainty that states, cities, and busi- nesses need," she said. The Obama administration was standing by its call for using one-time revenues from corporate tax reforms to fund a multi-year bill. The Murphy-Corker plan calls for raising fuel taxes six cents a year over two years, then indexing them to the Consumer Price Index. This drew support from American Trucking Associa- tions and others that see fuel taxes as the most effective and efficient solution to the funding problem. 8 PHOTO © ISTOCKPHOTO.COM Amid dire warnings about a looming cutoff in high- way funding, Congress scrambled for a fix to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent. There is no shortage of ideas, but there is a shortage of agreement. At press time, Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., had proposed a multi-year solution built on raising fuel taxes, a solution that cheered trucking and other highway interests. But Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., was pushing a six-month patch to create breathing room for negotiations on a long- term bill. Meanwhile, a move by House Republican leaders to plug the Trust Fund gap by claiming money from postal service reforms was losing steam. The fund is expected to run into the red in July or August, even before the current highway program expires at the end of Sep- tember. In a memo to his col- leagues, House Speaker John Boehner warned that the fund will need a $14-billion to $15-billion infusion before August to pay for a one-year extension. "Failing to provide additional funds would mean a disruption of ongoing construction projects," he said. The House plan says that by ending delivery of First- Class mail, catalogs, and low-priority mail on Satur- days, the Postal Service could save $10.7 billion over 10 years. The Post Office still would deliver packages and Priority and Express mail, and offices would stay open. This could reduce the size of a future federal bailout of the Postal Service, which will be necessary because the Service's retiree benefit program is underfunded. The projected savings would be combined with the $1.3 billion in the Leaking Underground Storage Tank The fund will need a $14-billion to $15-billion infusion before August to pay for a one-year extension.

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