President unveils $302 billion highway funding plan, presses Congress to act

| February 27, 2014
President Barack Obama spoke Wednesday at a train station in Saint Paul, Minn., where he outlined a $302 billion highway funding plan.

President Barack Obama spoke Wednesday at a train station in Saint Paul, Minn., where he outlined a $302 billion highway funding plan.

President Barack Obama laid out Wednesday a four-year, $302 billion highway funding plan proposal, calling on Congress to enact tax reform as a means of finding money to fund the Highway Trust fund and increase federal spending on the country’s ailing roadways. 

He also announced the beginning of a new round of TIGER grants, opening up $600 million in federal money to states and cities for “transformative” infrastructure projects.

The latest Highway Trust Fund ticker from the Department of Transportation. DOT chief Anthony Foxx predicts the HTF will be empty later this year.

The latest Highway Trust Fund ticker from the Department of Transportation. DOT chief Anthony Foxx predicts the HTF will be empty later this year. (Click to enlarge)

“Infrastructure shouldn’t be a partisan issue: Everybody uses roads, ports, airports,” he said. “Unfortunately, there have been some Republicans in Congress who refuse to act on common sense proposals that will create jobs and grow out economy.”

Obama’s tax reform proposal included reiterations from January’s State of the Union Address: “We’re going to close wasteful tax loopholes, lower tax rates for businesses that create jobs here at home, stop rewarding companies for sending jobs to other countires and use the money we save to create good jobs with good wages rebuilding America.”

Related

Support rallying for increase in fuel taxes to fund roads

More voices in support of raising fuel taxes as a means to fund the nation's attention-starved highways came this week at a Senate committee held to discuss creation of the next highway reauthorization bill.

The president gave the speech at a recently renovated Union Depot train station in Saint Paul, Minn., where he also press Congress to pass a new highway funding act. 

“This is one of Congress’s major responsibilities: helping states and cities fund new infrastructure projects,” he said. 

Also announced Wednesday was a plan from the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), which would also institute changes to the country’s tax code and open up $126.5 billion to fund transportation projects. 

Camp’s proposal would eliminate many tax deductions and lower some tax rates. 

The American Trucking Associations in response to the bill again called for their proposal to simply raise fuel taxes as a means to fund highway spending, preferring what the group calls a “user-funded plan.”

Related

DOT’s Foxx: As roads, infrastructure continue to worsen, Congress must act

The U.S. needs to stand up and face a looming "infrastructure deficit" by passing a long-term highway funding bill, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said this week, touting various proposals for bolstering funding and increasing efficiency.

“While a sustainable source of long-term, funding would be preferable, given the apparent reluctance to embrace traditional, user-funded revenue streams, ATA is prepared to keep an open mind when looking at financing options for the Highway Trust Fund,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves in a statement. 

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairman of her chamber’s Environment and Public Works Committee, said at another transportation conference Wednesday Camp’s proposal would be too tough to get through Congress before the expiration of MAP-21. She said she favors the president’s plan, but she said it’s unlikely Republicans will go for it. 

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he hopes both proposals bring attention to the need for investment in U.S.’ transportation.

  • Barney

    One hand they are talking about increasing fuel mileage, other hand raising taxes to offset increased fuel mileage reduction in highway trust fund. They can’t have it both ways.

  • Mike Smith

    I’m not going to read this whole line of crap. I will just say that I heard a report on RoadDog Radio that said the gov. is working on raising TRUCK diesel fuel, as I recall around 10 cents a gal.. What the gov needs to do is raise taxes on all drivers/consumers, as well as corporations that need shipping.

  • Mike Smith

    We have so much crazy crap going on in our country it’s insanity. We need to stop the illegal aliens from flooding into our country & get rid of the ones that are here if we have to much wear & tear. 50-100 million illegal aliens & there spawn, as well as so called legal aliens, can not be good for the infrastructure.

  • douglasmorton

    It would be a simple act to do. Bring ALL our troops home, over one billion a month is spent each month in each war zone. Spend the money on America and get our economy going again instead of borrowing money from China.

  • localnet

    Here we go again! Where the hell are these monies REALLY going? This administration has borrowed what, a trillion dollars plus for infrastructure repairs? Must be like his shovel ready jobs, not so shovel ready.

  • bigred

    This Fuel tax started when big Trucking had all their drivers and themselves believing they were gettting 8 to 10 MPG in a big truck. I don`t know if this was by design to hurt smaller companies or not but they had to know that eventually OUR good ole Government would raise our fuel taxes over this Bull. I just know one thing, if you carry the weight I carry and run where I run it does not matter what you drive, you are lucky to average 4.5 MPG….Time for the lying to stop about this fuel mileage.

  • David S. McQueen

    Well, the USA could bring every single troop home from everywhere, down-size the military to about 50,000 (so they can do disaster relief), cancel every weapons program, de-fund all R&D regarding weaponry, etc. Then, a few years from now, when a foreign nation attacks us, we’ll just raise the white flag (borrowed from Mexico, of course) and we can all live as slaves of whatever aggressor nation conquered us.

  • David S. McQueen

    The money is earmarked for those supporters of Lord Obama. If you do NOT support Lord Obama, then you get nothing (except higher taxes).

  • Certifiably Nutty

    It will never happen. Two reasons – one the government uses it as a simple revenue generator. Second, the general public doesn;t see it/feel it – all they know is that the price of gas is the price of gas. If the average consumer took the time to actually figure out how much of their per gallon cost was actually taxes, they would be outraged.
    I always said if you want to stimulate the economy, eliminate all the taxes on fuel. People would have more disposable income, truckers would have reduced operating expenses, within a short while the price of good sold will drop,

  • Guest

    @David you are absolutely correct the projects will go thru a “bidding” process to which only a few firms can do and the billions in contracts end up in the hands of only a few!

  • Del Ray Johnson

    You are absolutely correct the projects will go thru a so-caled “bidding” process to which only a few firms can do and the billions in contracts end up in the hands of only a few at the taxpayer’s expense b/c rich stay rich and the poor stay poor!

  • tgtrotter

    I think fuel tax is the most equitable way to fund highway infrastructure. With that said just amke sure the monies go to infrastructure. Maybe give it to the States directly.
    BUT MOST important with any Highway Bill is ensuring NO size and weight increase. I got an underlying suspicion that is what Mr. Obama and DC and lobbyist will use as leverage for passing any Bill.
    We DO NOT need or can afford 57′ trailers and 97k lb gross weights as the standard. WAKE-UP to this fact.

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  • jojo

    Eliminate taxes at the pump and replace that income with what?
    Every, Absolutely Every man, woman and child in one way or another relies on our roadways. Making Truck Drivers TAX collectors by charging us tolls is not the answer!
    Collecting road use tax at the pump up to now has proven to be the most efficient way to fund our roadways. This method of collection is proven to give us the most bang for our buck when compared with the bureaucratic expense of tolling or the proposed miles traveled tax.
    Increase the fuel tax and the fuel surcharge will increase proportionately.
    We need to revisit legislation that makes the DOE fuel surcharge the standard and that would require 100% of the fuel surcharge be paid to the entity purchasing the fuel.
    Why are the corporate trucking companies allowed to decide what we should be paid when the rest of the country has minimum standards to follow?

  • jojo

    I agree that all consumers need to pay their share. Actually, by adding the tax on diesel fuel, I believe it is intended to be passed on to the consumer via higher shipping cost.
    The large companies can afford to cover these additional cost because they save a fortune with the sub-standard wages paid to their Drivers.
    Cheap Freight Relies on Cheap Labor!

  • Mike Smith

    Cheap has become the measure of the day. There is no concern for real citizens, only the 3rd world savages, gov has provide for the corporations.