The current surface transportation authorization, “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act,” or FAST Act, provides a needed—albeit temporary—stabilization of federal highway and public transportation investment. Unfortunately, once the FAST Act expires in October 2020, the Highway Trust Fund revenue shortfalls that plagued surface transportation investment and forced multiple short-term program extensions over the last nine years will return. Due to their inability to provide a permanent revenue stream for the Highway Trust Fund, Congress and previous administrations have shifted $143 billion from elsewhere in the federal budget to preserve highway and public transit funding. Without a real permanent solution, they will once again be forced to choose between devastating cuts or more bailouts.
President Trump and leaders in Congress have begun the challenging task of overhauling the U.S. tax code. Disappointingly, neither the House nor Senate proposed tax bills currently include a Highway Trust Fund fix, this process is just beginning and the legislation will likely evolve as Congress moves forward.
Resolving the Highway Trust Fund’s fiscal imbalance now as part of tax reform makes economic and political sense. Over the last 30 years, all enhancements to the trust fund’s revenue stream have come as part of broad tax or budget packages. A permanent trust fund fix as part of tax reform would ease the prospects for the infrastructure package Congress and President Trump are committed to moving following tax reform.
Your senators and representative need to hear that you expect them to look for opportunities to inject a long-term Highway Trust Fund fix as the tax reform process moves forward.
Please call 202.224.3121, ask to speak with the legislative assistant who handles transportation issues and tell them:
TALKING POINT 1:I agree with the group of 253 bipartisan House members who wrote to House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Ranking Democrat Richard Neal (D-Mass.) earlier this year that a permanent Highway Trust Fund solution should be part of any tax reform plan and that all user-fee revenue options should be on the table to rectify this situation once and for all.
TALKING POINT 2:Waiting until the next trust fund crisis to act has repeatedly led to last-minute, short-term patches that dilute state efforts to implement long-term transportation improvement plans.
TALKING POINT 3: Stabilizing and growing federal surface transportation investment would help achieve many of the goals sought in reforming the tax code, specifically creating jobs and enhancing U.S. economic competitiveness.
TALKING POINT 4:If Congress does not act, the Highway Trust Fund will face annual revenue shortfalls of $18 billion once the FAST Act expires.
TALKING POINT 5:Congress has a narrow window to address this situation before states will once again be forced to begin delaying projects due to uncertainty about future federal funds.