Federal Highway Trust Fund Running On Empty - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Federal Highway Trust Fund Running On Empty

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 Another battle is shaping up in Washington and it's over potholes. Actually it's more than that, but potholes certainly play a part.
It's the Federal Highway Trust fund and it's in danger of running out of money at the height of the road construction season.    

You see it most every place you go this time of year, road construction.

The project on 25th Street South and Interstate 94 is a prime example of your city, state and federal tax dollars at work.

Many of those road dollars are returned to the states, though the Federal Highway Trust Fund and that's where the politics of the situation comes in.

President Obama is asking the congress to approve his four-year transportation policy plan, but he say the house Republicans won't act on it.

In the meantime the trust fun which is supported by the Federal Gas Tax is running on empty.

Sen. Heitkamp: "This illustrates my frustration. We have a crisis and we know when this will happen but we haven't seen fit to give certainty to highway contractors and our states so they know money will be given to them this fiscal year."

Heitkamp says she doesn't have a specific plan in mind. She says she wants to see all the options being talked about.

As for Senator Hoeven, he agrees, something needs to get done but he makes no bones about where he stands on the issue, politically.

Sen. Hoeven: "The key is how you pay for it. In other words Republicans and Democrats have brought forward plans to make sure funding continues but the key is how do we pay for it. What we advocate for is finding savings to pay for it so you don't increase the debt or deficit but what the administration is talking about raising taxes. We don't want to raise taxes."

There is also a proposal developed by Senator Corker of Tennessee, a Republican, and Senator Murphy of Connecticut, a Democrat. It calls for increasing the gas tax by 12 cents but neither the Republican nor the president support that.

In any event it's probably a safe bet. Congress will do something soon. The administration is sending letters to al 50 states warning it will limit road construction spending August 1st if they don't.

The gas tax has not been raised since 1993, but inflation and the increasing fuel efficiency of cars driven in the U.S. have slowly eroded the incoming revenues over the years. 

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