Monday, February 13, 2012

Highway Trust Fund Puzzle – The Third Piece

The third piece of the federal Highway Trust Fund reauthorization puzzle fell into place this morning with the release of the Obama Administration’s 256 page fiscal 2013 budget message. The White House is asking Congress for a six year, $476 billion reauthorization of the Highway Trust Fund, including spending from motor fuel taxes and general federal revenues, all marked as mandatory expenditures.

This amounts to annual expenditures averaging more than $79.3 billion for each of the next six years, an appropriation level over 229% greater than HR 7 and more than 190% greter than SB 1813, the two measures currently pending on the floors of Congress. The Administration’s release of this proposal on the heels of the miserly bills reported out of Congressional committees last week will undoubtedly serve to prolong the battle over reauthorization legislation, and lead to several more interim, month to month appropriation measures.

Each step in this process demonstrates how little the Washington DC politicians care about the devastating impact their behavior has on state and local government planning, and on employment in the construction industry. While they are busy posturing, blaming each other for reckless overspending or terrifying gridlock, tradespeople across the nation remain out of work, and contractors struggle to stay in business. The lack of leadership on both sides of the aisle and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue is appalling. If you care at all about the future of the construction economy, get out a pen, some company letterhead, three envelopes and three stamps, and let your Representative and both Senators know how you feel.

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