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Posts Tagged ‘C. Kenneth Orski’

The High-Speed Rail Debate Revisited

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 12
Two recent columns in the New York Times (both reprinted below) have revived the semi-dormant debate about the future of high-speed rail in America. The first column, by New York Times correspondent Ron Nixon, casts a skeptical eye on the Administration’s high-speed rail program and concludes that “despite the administration spending nearly $11 billion since 2009….the projects have gone mostly nowhere…”

The second column, closely following the first, is an opinion piece by the Times’ editorial board. The editors may have felt obliged to respond to the highly critical assessment of the White House initiative by one of their own reporters.

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The Changing Nature of State-Federal Relations in Transportation

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 11
With the Republicans likely to control the Senate next year and the presidential elections casting a shadow over any new proposal to raise taxes, there will be a huge temptation for Congress to kick the can down the road once again — beyond the presidential election and into the next Congress. Remember, it took three years and eight short-term extensions to pass the last reauthorization, MAP-21!

Fortunately, many individual states are trying to compensate for the lack of congressional action on long term funding by raising additional revenue of their own. Our survey has identified more than 30 states that have launched transportation-related fiscal initiatives in the past two years.

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12 U.S. DOT Secretaries Speak, But Won’t Agree on a “Fix”

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 10
The 12 bipartisan secretaries allude in their letter to their combined experience stretching back over 35 years. Indeed, they arguably have more institutional knowledge, experience and expertise in transportation funding than the whole current Congress combined. Their coming together at this moment also bespeaks to their above-the-fray non-partisanship and general collegiality…So the obvious question for them is: Why can’t they, or why won’t they, make a single substantive consensus recommendation on exactly how transportation funding should be increased?

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States’ Transportation Revenue Initiatives Help to Compensate for an Absence of Congressional Action on Long-Term Funding

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No.
While transportation stakeholders and the Washington press corps focus on the impending insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund and bemoan the fact that the House-Senate agreement to replenish the Trust Fund provides only short-term funding ($10.8 billion) through May 2015, they are ignoring developments outside the Beltway that go a long way toward compensating for an absence of congressional action on long-term funding. For in fact, individual states, far from sitting idly by, are responding to the fiscal uncertainties in Washington by stepping up and raising additional revenue to meet their transportation needs.

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States’ Fiscal Initiatives Offer a Solution to the Impending Trust Fund Shortfall

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 8

While transportation stakeholders and the Washington press corps are agonizing about the impending Highway Trust Fund shortfall and its impact on the federal transportation program, they are ignoring developments outside the Beltway that go a long way toward mitigating the prospective funding shortage. For in fact, individual states, far from standing idly by, are responding to the fiscal uncertainties in Washington by stepping up and augmenting their transportation budgets.

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Hopes for a Long-Term Transportation Bill Are Fading

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 7
With federal transportation spending outpacing tax receipts by some $1.25 billion/month, the cash balance of the Federal Highway Trust is drawing perilously close to the point where the U.S Department of Transportation will be obliged to institute cash management strategies—such as slowing down or delaying state reimbursements — to keep the Trust Fund account solvent. Based on current spending and revenue trends, this point —a cash balance of $4 billion in the Highway Account —will be reached in late July according to the latest U.S. DOT estimate However, CBO estimates that “both the highway account and the transit account will end the end of the fiscal year with a positive balance” according to an April 14 memo from the Congressional Budget Office (Subject: CBO’s Highway Trust Fund Runs, April Baseline)

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US DOT Unveils Details of Proposed Administration Transportation Bill

Friday, May 9th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 6
For all its stirring of discussion on a myriad of important policy issues, this proposed legislation demonstrates at a core level that the revenue necessary for any such bill is nearly impossible to add up in a way that is both fiscally plausible and politically palatable in the current moment. The “details” the Administration is providing come with an important asterisk (*), denoting the blank slate it ascribes to something called “corporate tax reform,” the very pillar on which the rest of the proposed bill is supposed to stand. As such, the funding plan is not considered to be a serious proposal, but rather a place-holder designed to prompt a “dialogue” with Congress on funding, while encouraging others to come up with something that is more politically realistic in this election year.

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As the Highway Trust Fund Runs Low on Cash, States Come to the Rescue with Creative Funding Initiatives

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 5
With federal transportation spending outpacing tax receipts by some $1.25 billion/month, the cash balance of the Federal Highway Trust is drawing perilously close to the point where the U.S Department of Transportation will be obliged to institute cash management strategies—such as reimbursing states weekly rather than on a daily basis— to keep the Trust Fund account solvent. Based on current spending and revenue trends, this point —a cash balance of $4 billion—may be reached as early as late July according to some estimates.

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As Congress Struggles for Ways to Fund the Next Transportation Reauthorization, States Are Taking Matters Into Their Own Hands

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 4 rev
For the transportation community, anxious about the uncertain future of the surface transportation program, recent events offered little reassurance. The President’s proposal for a four-year $302 billion transportation reauthorization, part of the administration’s FY 2015 Budget, met with a skeptical reception on Capitol Hill. “This budget isn’t a serious document; it’s a campaign brochure,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) said dismissively. “Perhaps the most irresponsible budget yet,” commented House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). The lawmakers’ negative reaction was no doubt amplified by the fact that the President’s budget ignored the spending levels painfully negotiated by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep.Ryan just last December. The Administration’s proposal exceeds the bipartisan budget agreement by $56 billion.

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Rethinking the Way Transportation Infrastructure Is Funded

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 3A
It may come as a surprise to you, but there is a quiet revolution in transportation funding underway these days. Faced with a depleted Highway Trust Fund and uncertain prospects for more money from a deficit-conscious Congress, many states are taking matters into their own hands and aggressively pursuing more fiscal independence.

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