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Transport Committee Chair Bill Shuster: Considering ‘all tools available’ in funding roads

In terms of funding infrastructure needs, "Anything that makes sense we want to take a look at," said Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Bill Shuster today in Little Rock.

By DOROTHY COX
The Trucker Staff

4/22/2013

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. When it comes to funding a badly needed overhaul of the nation’s infrastructure, “We’re not ruling anything in or out,” said Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., here today. “We’re considering all tools available.”

In reference to a hike in fuel taxes which the American Trucking Associations believes is the most efficient and effective way to fund the infrastructure Shuster said it would depend on “what the American people will tolerate,” and that he didn’t know if it would be possible outside of a major tax reform bill.

Public-private partnerships are certainly part of the funding equation, Shuster told The Trucker, using as an example private entities interested in funding deepening of ports to accommodate larger cargo ships. “There’s tremendous interest from the private sector to improve our infrastructure,” he said here at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.

“We’re looking at funding really closely,” he told meeting attendees. “Anything that makes sense we want to take a look at.”

Noting the crucial role the infrastructure plays in the marketplace, Shuster said it’s the federal government’s role to work in partnership with states to “move forward” with transportation improvements.

On the subject of alternative fuels, Shuster said there need to be incentives put in place to help trucking fleets transfer from diesel over to natural gas and to help truck stop facilities afford the conversion as well.

He told The Trucker that legislation, not going through the Environmental Protection Agency, would be the way to establish natural gas incentives but that a bill to do just that had been introduced in Congress but unfortunately had “not moved.”

Natural gas presents tremendous opportunities for the economy in terms of jobs and also for the environment “so we’re not dependent on the Middle East” for oil, Shuster said.

Shuster had come from Oklahoma to Arkansas, where he said he would be talking with Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe to find out how Beebe was able to get voters to approve a sales tax increase and also will be meeting with representatives of the Arkansas Trucking Association.

Shuster said the political game in Washington has “changed from a power game to a finesse game,” which entails a lot of “listening,” and he said he would be doing a lot of that in Arkansas.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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