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ON THE HORIZON


Politicking the Highways A look at what’s effecting infrastructure funding


BY JOHN D. SCHULZ ContributingWriter


Picture this: You are the CEO of a


company that’s drowning in red ink and badly in need of cash. Someone offers you a financial life vest—a steady infusion of new cash – and asks nothing more in return than to use your new and improved product. Assuming it’s legal it’s a no-brainer, right?


Take the cash, turn the company around and everyone lives happily ever after. Well, instead of a company, let’s substitute


a country. Make it the United States of America, the greatest country on earth. And the badly needed cash is for rebuilding its infrastructure, its roads and bridges. And the group offering the financial life


vest is actually the huge industry that depends on those roads and bridges—the trucking industry, which accounts for 7 million jobs and as much as 5 percent of the nation’s $14 trillion Gross Domestic Product. The trucking industry is offering up more


money to rebuild those roads and bridges it relies on to perform. And the folks who run the country, who oversee those roads and bridges in the public trust are saying, ‘no thanks.’ This is really going on in Washington as we


speak.


THE REALITY The issue is the renewal of the surface


transportation bill, commonly known as the highway bill. Congress used to pass one every six years. But that hasn’t happened. Congress has resorted to a long series of


“continuing resolutions”, temporary funding issues, essentially issuing promissory notes from the general treasury and filing them in the Highway Trust Fund, which is not generating enough revenue from fuel taxes to pay even those jobs that are contracted. Rather than pass a new highway funding bill, Congress has extended the funding at


ROADWISE |


least eight times, mostly at three-month intervals, with the latest extension due to expire March 31. Finally, despite some movement in the


U.S. House and Senate to actually pass some version of a highway bill, they are leaving one thing out. A huge element is missing – new taxes and fees to repair a deteriorating that network of roads and bridges. The whole thing could render the process almost pointless. But appearances can go a long way in an election year.


ISSUE 1, 2012 | www.mttrucking.org


MACHINATIONS So let’s enter the real world of Washington


hardball politics to understand why the trucking industry almost certainly won’t be paying higher fuel taxes any time soon. Following President Obama’s State of


the Union address, in which he mentioned funding infrastructure with money from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, American Trucking Associations (ATA) President and CEO Bill Graves said the administration


13 “CRAZY” POLITICAL


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