House Transportation Chair John Mica has been given the green light to explore options for providing up to $15 billion per year for a multi-year transportation bill. It’s not clear what those options might be, other than it won’t be a gas tax increase according to GOP sources.
Mica’s proposed funding level for a new surface transportation bill is restricted to current transportation revenue, per a House rule adopted earlier this year. That would result in a more than 30% cut from current funding, which has been supplemented with general funds.
One option for additional revenue may be expanded oil drilling. House Speaker John Boehner seemed to foreshadow this recently:
“I’m not opposed to responsible spending to repair and improve infrastructure. But if we want to do it in a way that truly supports long-term economic growth and job creation, let’s link the next highway bill to an expansion of American-made energy production.”
Streetsblog DC notes that “Adding $15 billion to each of those years could allow for spending totals above current baseline numbers of $41.6 billion for highways and $8.4 billion for transit in FY2012. However, it still wouldn’t quite match the Senate proposal, a two-year bill funding the surface transportation program at almost $55 billion a year. (The highway/transit split hasn’t been defined in the Senate bill.) Sen. Barbara Boxer says these levels essentially reflect current spending levels, plus inflation, plus an expanded TIFIA loan program.”
Larry Ehl is the founder and publisher of Transportation Issues Daily. In the public sector, Larry was Federal Relations Manager for Washington State DOT; Chief of Staff to US Senator Slade Gorton; and was twice elected to the Edmonds School Board.