The National Governors Association has joined U.S Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in calling for a replenishment of the Highway Trust Fund which could go broke in August. The Highway Trust Fund is funded by federal taxes on gasoline and these funds flow to the states for building and maintaining roads and bridges. But with more fuel efficient cars and driving reduced, the fund is in dire need of money to keep it solvent.
Secretary LaHood called for a fix to the trust fund and an 18-month extension to the existing transportation bill. LaHood, a former member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, knows full-well how complicated the task of passing a new legislation can be and the sweeping proposal set forth by Congressmen Oberstar and Mica will need more consideration than the next two months. It is “only” 775 pages long (.pdf)
As Secretary LaHood said on his blog:
Roadwork is not a simple undertaking. Our road-building and road-maintaining commitments must be planned years and years ahead. But, when times are uncertain, Americans are making gas-pump decisions month-to-month, some even day-to-day.
While the governors remain silent on the legislation proposed by Reps. Oberstar and Mica, they reinforced the need for a fix to the highway trust fun by saying:
Fixing the Highway Trust Fund shortfall as soon as possible will permit many states to begin their 2010 state fiscal year on July 1 with the assurance that they will receive the amount of transportation funding pledged to them under federal law.
I have written before about the dire situation in the highway trust fund. My colleague Bob Poole agrees that rushing the highway bill would be a mistake. And the highway trust fund can not be permitted to go into the red.