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September 2010
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Resolution to Address Highway Trust Fund Shortfalls

TMACOG and other Ohio transportation planning agencies are preparing resolutions recommending significant changes to how we fund the Highway Trust Fund and manage national transportation planning.

The Highway Trust Fund - generated through taxes on fuel – was established in 1956 to construct the Interstate Highway System. The system did build our interstate highway system but went broke in 2009. The U.S. is out of funds to maintain roads and bridges. Since 2009, Congress has twice provided emergency infusions to keep the fund solvent. This is an untenable position. The current gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon was last increased in 1993. Because the tax is not indexed to inflation, actual purchasing power continues to decline, even as the system ages and more people use the roads. Tax receipts are also affected by cars with better gas mileage which has resulted in less gasoline purchased by the average driver. Additionally, the last federal transportation bill (SAFETEA-LU) expired in 2009 and Congress has not produced a new bill. The current position is that we are borrowing money to do basic road maintenance and have no comprehensive plan to improve a multimodal transportation system.

The resolutions proposed by TMACOG and other Ohio agencies address the short term need to fund the Highway Trust Fund, and the long term need to come up with a more fiscally responsible way to manage the transportation system.

The resolution states that TMACOG supports a ten cent per gallon increase in the federal gasoline tax. While recognizing that a tax is a short term solution, the resolution also asks that a new federal mechanism for generating transportation revenue be found, and that this strategy not be dependent upon increasing use of petroleum. In addition, the resolution asks that priorities be established in regard to system preservation, system expansion, public transportation, and passenger rail. See the entire resolution here.

The TMACOG resolution and those adopted by other Ohio designated planning agencies will be forwarded to members of Ohio’s Congressional delegation.

 


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