Senate Letter in Support of Talent Transportation Budget Amendment
March 16, 2005
To MEMBERS OF THE U.S. SENATE: One of the core responsibilities of the federal government is to provide a sound transportation system that moves people and goods safely and efficiently. Available revenues, however, are failing to keep up with the growing demands placed on the nation's highway and transit network. Consequently, we urge you to support Senator Jim Talent's Transportation Budget Amendment, which would ensure the committee's
developing legislation to reauthorize the federal highway and transit programs have the ability to provide the revenues necessary to help meet the needs of all states.
Past budget resolutions approved by the House and Senate included "reserve fund" language giving the Finance, EPW, Banking and Commerce Committees the flexibility to consider all available transportation revenues for the reauthorization bill. The current Senate budget resolution includes a reserve fund mechanism that would unnecessarily restrict those options. The proposal from the Senate Budget Committee would preclude the use of several funding mechanisms supported by the Administration and utilized in the TEA-21 reauthorization bill that passed the Senate with 76 bipartisan votes in 2004. Among the funding options that would be blocked are:
- Interest on the Highway Trust Fund's unexpended balances
- The motor fuels refund reform for over the road and lend-lease vehicles (which was included in the President's FY 2006 budget)
- Draw down of the Highway Trust Fund's balances
The Talent Transportation Budget Amendment would make the Senate budget resolution reserve fund consistent with the language in the House budget resolution and the FY 2005 budget resolution conference report. The amendment is narrowly targeted and would not affect the budget neutrality of the final transportation reauthorization bill.
We firmly support user fee financing for the federal transportation programs, which has been the successful practice for decades. However, we also support ongoing efforts to enhance Highway Trust Fund revenues through all available methods, which would be impossible without this amendment.
Please support the Talent Transportation Budget Amendment to help restore options for funding your state's critical transportation infrastructure needs as part of the TEA-21 reauthorization bill that will be considered by the Senate later this year.
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
American Concrete Pavement Association
American Council of Engineering Companies
American Highway Users Alliance
American Public Transportation Association
American Road and Transportation Builders Association
American Society of Civil Engineers
Associated General Contractors of America
Heavy and Highway Alliance
National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association
Portland Cement Association
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Americans for Transportation Mobility
Transportation Construction Coalition