No solutions in Obama's 2014 infrastructure budget, ATA says
ATA President and CEO Bill Graves says the trucking industry still is getting lip service about the importance of the infrasgtructure. (The Trucker file photo)
The Trucker News Services
ARLINGTON, Va. — President Barack Obama’s budget announced Wednesday fails to provide adequate detail and direction for how the country should pay for its infrastructure needs, American Trucking Associations leaders said hours after the budget had been released.
“The backbone of our economy is the asphalt, steel and concrete of our roads and bridges,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said, “and proposals to fund those roads should be equally concrete. For five years, we’ve waited for President Obama to clearly state how we should pay for these critical needs and, I’m sad to say, we continue to get lip service about the importance of roads and bridges with no real roadmap to real funding solutions.”
The White House said that the budget “invests in repairing our existing infrastructure and building the infrastructure of tomorrow, including high-speed rail, high-tech schools and power grids that are resilient to future extreme conditions. These investments will both lay the foundation for long-term economic growth and put workers back on the job now.”
More specifically, the budget provides $50 billion for upfront infrastructure investments, including $40 billion for “Fix it First” projects, to invest immediately in repairing highways, bridges, transit systems and airports nationwide; and $10 billion for competitive programs to encourage innovation in completing high-value infrastructure projects.
The White House further said that the 2014 budget:
• Fully funds the authorized funding levels provided in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) for surface transportation programs.
• Reserves funding after the expiration of MAP-21 in 2015 for a robust, long-term reauthorization of surface transportation programs, including a 25 percent increase from current funding level.
“A safe and efficient network of highways is critical not just to my business, but to all businesses in this country,” said ATA Chairman Mike Card, president of Combined Transport, Central Point, Ore. “Trucking is willing to step up and pay more to ensure this country has the world-class highways it deserves, but until the president and congressional leaders advance a plan with real funding solutions, I worry about the continued deterioration of one of our nation’s most critical competitive advantages.”
ATA is and continues to be a strong, vocal advocate for increasing funding for roads, highways and bridges, but also for identifying efficient and effective sources of real revenue to do so, Graves said.
“Accounting gimmicks and budget tricks only get you so far,” Graves said, “sooner or later you need to take a hard look at the situation and decide that we’re either going to invest in these things or we’re not and if we are, that we need to generate more revenue than we do now. It’s time to show us the money and where you intend to get it from. Simply letting states borrow more is no substitute for increased federal investment.”
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