Government Affairs

ACPA Opposes Proposed Highway Bill Devolution Legislation

Standing firmly in support of “robust, long-term” federal funding for surface transportation, ACPA and 16 other groups sent a letter to Congress opposing highway funding “devolution” proposals, including the recently proposed “Transportation Empowerment Act” (TEA).

The letter expressed the need for passage of a surface transportation bill before expiration of funding for the program in May 2015. Further, it stated that devolution proposals are “ill-conceived, noting that by stripping away most federal funding for surface transportation projects, this legislation would virtually eliminate the federal government’s constitutionally mandated role in promoting interstate commerce.” 

The letter also expressed concerns about the legislation’s intent to reduce funding for the federal-aid highway program by more than 80 percent by 2019–from $45 billion to less than $8 billion–with no consideration of the impact on state and local governments or private industry.  

The other groups formally signing onto the letter to oppose the legislation included associations representing the transportation-construction industry and road users, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.   To view a copy of the letter, click here.

ACPA Examines the Murphy-Corker Gas Tax Proposal

It is no secret that the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), the primary funding source for the nation’s surface transportation programs is in dire need of a sustainable solution that will allow for the rehabilitation of U.S. highways.   Temporary solutions have staved off a catastrophic depletion of the HTF, but a longer-term solution is needed.

Senators Christopher Murphy (D-Ct.) and Bob Corker (R-Tn.) are proposing a 12-cent increase in the gas tax to pay for a renewal of highway and transit programs.

The proposal  has been gaining support in Washington, D.C., and one of the key points said to be helping garner Republican support is that the tax increase would not violate the Americans for Tax Reform pledge if it is paired with a provision making some popular tax breaks that are typically part of the tax extenders package permanent, according to an article in THE HILL.(1)

To illustrate the point, the graphic below shows some very down-to-earth examples of the nominal economic impact the current gas tax has, as well as what the proposed additional tax would mean to taxpayers.

Gas-Tax-InfoGraphic

Overview of the Proposal

The Murphy-Corker proposal includes two primary steps, according to  Senator Murhpy, whose website details the plan, as well as some tax relief measures. (2)  

These include:

  • Increasing the federal gasoline and diesel taxes by six cents in each of the next two years for a total of 12 cents.  This provides enough funding to offset current MAP-21 spending levels over the next 10 years and replaces all of the buying power the federal gas tax has lost since it was last raised in 1993.

  • Indexing the gas tax to inflation, using the Consumer Price Index (CPI), to ensure that it remains viable into the future.


To offset the revenue raised from increasing the gas tax to pay for our roads and 
transportation projects, the Senators are proposing  ways to provide net tax relief for American families and businesses.  

Tax relief could include: 
  • Permanently extending some of the tax provisions in the “tax extenders” bill that already have broad, bipartisan support. This could create an estimated $190 billion in permanent tax relief for American families and businesses over the next 10 years alone.
  • A second option is another bipartisan proposal to reduce taxes by at least the amount of revenue  raised from the gas tax over the next decade.

__________________________

Resferences

  1. Murphy, Chris (U.S. Senator), website resource.  http://www.murphy.senate.gov/download/murphy-corker-htf
  2. “Senators proposeSenators propose raising the gas tax for the first time since 1993,” THE HILL, June 18, 2014.  http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/209769-murphy-and-corker-propose-raising-164-billion-through-higher-gas-tax

Illustration
Graphic courtesy of the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Assocation



ACPA Issues Statement in Response to Highway Funding Extension

(August 9, 2014) – The American Concrete Pavement Association (ACPA) acknowledges the work and efforts of the President and Congress in taking action on the Highway Trust Fund and the extension of the current highway and public transportation programs.

The President has signed into law a short-term measure that will transfer nearly $11 billion into the Highway Trust Fund and extend the HTF and extend the highway and transit programs from September 30 until May 31, 2015.  

Although this, the fifth and latest temporary trust fund “patch” in seven years comes as a relief to the transportation-construction industry, ACPA continues to emphasize the need for longer-term solutions to meet the needs of the nation’s federal-aid highway system. 

The actions of the President, as well as the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, staved off depletion of the Highway Trust Fund and allowed the programs to continue at current levels.  Failure to take action, particularly on the HTF, would have required the U.S. Transportation Department to cut to funding for highway construction, rehabilitation, and preservation projects.  Failure to act also would have put 700,000 jobs at risk, according to the Administration. 

“Although this measure avoids drastic cuts that would have adversely affected our industry, state agencies/owners, and others in the transportation-construction community, we remain very concerned about finding long-term solutions to address the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) issue and the critical needs of our nation’s highways,” said Gerald F. Voigt, P.E., ACPA President & CEO.    “We urge Congress and the Administration to work on addressing the HTF situation, as well as to support long term legislation that allows companies to invest in the future and agencies to adequately plan for the current and future needs of our highways. 

“Along with our other partners in the Highway Materials Group, we remain committed to a six-year surface transportation authorization to stabilize and grow the Highway Trust Fund, as well as the four reauthorization principles that have been circulated to all Members of Congress.”  

These principles include:

  • Increased investments needed to maintain and expand the highway system essential to meet the competitive demands of the global economy;
  • Fulfillment of the Constitutional responsibility as provided in Article 1, Section 8 to “establish Post Offices and post Roads,” which are the precursor of the National Highway System;
  • Retention of the user-fee based system that ensures all users of the highway system contribute toward its construction, maintenance and rehabilitation; and,
  • No more delays, which only makes the investments necessary to highways, roads, and bridges, more difficult and expensive.  

Voigt explained that more than a decade’s worth of short-term legislation and temporary fixes to the Highway Trust Fund have impeded the ability of many state agencies and private companies to make capital investments, to plan ahead, and to invest in the technologies necessary to remain competitive in the marketplace.

“Although the industry and agencies have adapted to austere budgets and anemic funding levels, the familiar guidance of ‘doing more with less’ has meant stagnation, lingering high unemployment, and an overall weakening of the highway and heavy construction industry, not to mention weakening our infrastructure.   Agencies have been increasingly forced to cover up real problems, instead of fixing them properly.    This is analogous to putting a paint job on rotten wooden siding,” he says.

ACPA Urges Increased Participation in Legislative Issues Task Force

ACPA is urging members to participate in the association’s Legislative Issues Task Force (LITF).   

The two-fold request is centered on developing a group of people who can quickly mobilize to contact Congress on key issues as they arise, as well as to participate by “opting in” to LITF emails.   Specifically, the requests are:

  • For help from time to time in engaging with your members of Congress to educate them on the importance of investing in infrastructure, and the critical role our industry plays in that regard.  This will enable ACPA and its members to to more effectively influence Congress to move quickly, decisively, and in full support of well-funded, long-term solutions that will create more opportunities for our concrete pavement industry.
  • For members and Chapter/State affiliates to “opt in” to our Legislative Issues Task Force emails, which include advisories, alerts, and calls to actions.   (Respecting people’s valuable time, ACPA “color codes” these as green (information items); yellow (urgent or time-sensitive alerts), and red (requests for action and response).

Why is this Important?
Given the severe funding challenge the federal aid highway program is currently facing, and the importance that federal investment plays for our concrete pavement industry, it’s vital for everyone in the transportation-construction industry to help with the “heavy lifting.”   Only if we all do our part—whether it’s a small part or a larger role—will we ever break the impasse and influence our elected officials to provide the long-term funding and policy solutions that have a direct positive impact on construction projects in every state.

How You Can Help
The best way to start is to send us an email to legislative@acpa.org with the subject line “Opt In.”   (In fact, interested parties can simply click on the link, add your name, and hit the send button.)

 We’ll then add your name to our distribution list, which will keep you posted on some of our actions directly with Congress, as well as our efforts with the Transportation Construction Coalition (comprised of ARTBA, AGC, and other transportation and labor organizations), the Highway Materials Group (ACPA, NSSGA,  NRMCAPCA , CRSI and NAPA), as well as the American Highways Users Alliance.

 With your help, we have a great opportunity to secure the funding that will allow long-term investments in both our nation’s infrastructure, as well as your company, your employees, and your bottom line. 

 Please “opt in” to let us know we can count on your involvement!

 

ACPA Paper Emphasizes Importance of Competition

View/Download the Paper

ACPA is encouraging members and promoters to read its newest position paper, which reflects the association’s philosophy on competition between the industries in the transportation construction marketplace.

 “The Role of Competition in the Pavement Type Selection:  What is the Ideal Process?”  is a  well organized, clearly written 14-page document that describes both the role and the importance of competition in pavement type selection.  Competition

With facts and illustrations, the document presents the history of pavement type selection in the U.S.; the guidance behind these practices; and a proposed pavement type selection process that attempts to include all possible and proper measures to ensure the taxpaying public receives full value of every highway dollar spent. 

The paper reflects ACPA’s philosophical views, backed by research and clear examples, which the Association is using to encourage agencies to adopt healthy competition in the marketplace.

The paper concludes with the point that competition represents the most significant opportunity for highway agencies in today’s economic environment.

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