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Deadline Approaches for Highway Trust Fund, Again
With the clock ticking on the current funding for highways and transit, the House of Representatives passed a five-month extension, while the Senate continues to work on a long-term bill.
The House measure, which would extend Highway Trust Fund authority through December 18th, comes with an $8.1 billion price tag. It would be paid for primarily by extending the treatment of Transportation Security Administration fees as mandatory savings for two more years and modifying several tax compliance laws.
The goal is to provide enough time for Congress to pass later this year a long-term bill funded by reforming U.S. corporate tax policy on foreign profits, otherwise known as repatriation.
The Senate is working on passing the multi-year Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act. A summary of the various provisions and payfors is available on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works website.
Even if the Senate passes a long-term bill with the related funding, the House is unlikely to accept the bill as is. And time is short for the two chambers to negotiate a lengthy bill prior to the July 31st expiration of Highway Trust Fund authority.
This means the House and Senate will need to come together on a short-term extension and the required funding before the House heads out for the August recess toward the end of next week.
Preparation for the Next Budget Begins Today
By Craig Thomspon, Executive Director
With the passage of the 2015-17 biennial budget, Wisconsin missed yet another opportunity to address its mounting transportation needs head on. With that being said, we did avoid burying ourselves under a level of debt and debt service that would have made it even harder to remedy in the future.
Projects will be delayed. Local government will continue to look at replacement cycles that tend to be longer than a human’s life expectancy. Bridges will be posted. Farmers and timber haulers and those transporting heavy equipment will be diverted at substantial cost. Wisconsin’s embarrassingly low ranking in the conditions of its roads will get worse.
All of the work that went into preparing for this legislative session, however, is not lost. We have an increasing understanding by the public of our transportation needs. Polling bears that out. We can now say with confidence that any increase in user fees will be constitutionally dedicated to fixing our transportation system. We have a growing number of lawmakers publicly stating that we need to find a more sustainable and responsible solution to maintain our transportation system. Eleven Republicans even voted “no” on final passage of the budget with many siting the failure to address transportation as a reason for their vote.
So, we regroup. We re-energize and commit ourselves to the fact that the next biennial budget is the one where Wisconsin breaks its habit of kicking the can down the road when it comes to transportation funding.
Debby Jackson and I just returned from a conference in Washington D.C. put on by the Transportation Investment Advocacy Center (TIAC). TIAC is a group of state multi-modal advocacy coalitions like TDA that was formed by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) to share best practices and case studies
There were many states that were able to come and share their success stories. Georgia, Texas, Kentucky and New Hampshire were just several of the states that presented on how they were able to pass sustainable transportation revenue packages.
We continue to glean information from many of our counterparts across the country and determine what translates to Wisconsin and what doesn’t.
To that end, we have pulled together a working group of public relations professionals from local government, businesses and several other trade groups to develop a grass roots outreach plan for the upcoming two years which utilizes some proven techniques and strategies and leverages the many different sectors in Wisconsin that have a vested interested in solving this problem.
Stay tuned in the coming months for more information on this effort and how you can get involved. Also, try and block out September 17th for the TDA Annual Meeting where we will provide more on this effort.
This budget only deepens our resolve and increases our energy to get to a place where Wisconsin has a transportation network worthy of our citizens, doesn’t act as a drag on our economy and one that is fiscally sustainable.
Governor of Washington Signs 11.9 Cent Gas Tax Increase
On July 15th, Governor Inslee (D-Washington) approved a package of bills to generate $16 billion in new revenue over 16 years in order to address critical safety, maintenance and congestion needs across Washington.
The increased investment will be funded largely by additional gas tax revenue, with a 7-cent increase starting August 1, 2015 and a 4.9-cent increase July 1, 2016. The package also includes an increase in transportation-related fees – including those for overweight vehicles, additional general fund appropriations, and bonding.
The “Connecting Washington” program investments will include: $8.8 billion for road and safety projects, $1.4 billion for highway maintenance and preservation and $1.3 billion for non-highway projects such as bike paths, rail and transit.
In addition, voters in Sound Transit’s three-county transit district will be given the opportunity to approve $15 billion to extend the light rail system.
Upon the signing of the bill Governor Inslee stated:
“I laid out a transportation vision for our state in which transportation truly works as a system. No more east versus west. No more urban versus rural. No more roads versus transit. This package represents the largest single investment in transportation in state history. I appreciate the hard work legislators on both sides of the aisle put into crafting a package that will maximize these dollars so we can grow jobs, improve safety and provide commuters more choices all throughout Washington.”
The package is expected to generate 200,000 jobs.
“This is a big win for Washington and the result of productive bipartisan collaboration,” said Maud Daudon, president and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. “The leadership shown by Governor Inslee and legislators means we now can move ahead on critical investments that will help Washington’s economy thrive.”
Washington is the seventh state to increase their state gas tax in 2015, joining Idaho, Iowa, Georgia, South Dakota, Utah and Nebraska.
Wisconsin Aviation Week Celebrates the Strength of the State’s Aviation Industry
Wisconsin Aviation Week kicked off July 20th and continues through the 26th, and the overlap with EAA AirVenture is no coincidence. There is no better time to pay homage to Wisconsin’s aviation industry than during the week of EAA AirVenture, “The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration.”
Each year, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) and the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin (TDA) team up to promote, educate and celebrate the state’s aviation industry.
Wisconsin’s airport system plays a key role in the state’s transportation network. It meets business, passenger, freight and recreational air transportation needs all around the state while enhancing the economic vitality of Wisconsin’s communities.
Below is a quick look at Wisconsin’s aviation industry:
To ensure travelers passing through Wisconsin’s airports have an outstanding and safe experience, the state places an emphasis on infrastructure improvement at airports of all sizes. In 2014, more than $114 million in federal and state funds supported dozens of airport improvement projects around Wisconsin.
- The industry supports 90,900 jobs which generate nearly $7 billion in annual economic activity and $3.5 billion in personal income.
- The state’s aviation system includes more than 722 landing facilities, 127 of which are public-use airports.
- In 2014, Wisconsin's aviation industry accommodated 4.9 million passengers and more than 119 million pounds of cargo.
- There are more than 5,000 registered aircraft throughout Wisconsin.
Wisconsin’s aviation industry links the state’s residents and workers to larger national and global markets. Businesses recognize the state’s aviation network is crucial in order to remain competitive in today’s global economy.
And of course, Wisconsin’s aviation industry and infrastructure helps 500,000 aviation enthusiasts from more than 60 countries gather each year at EAA AirVenture.
Interesting News Coverage
Progressive Railroading, July 2015 – “Role expanding for Midwestern inland ports”
ClickonDetroit.com, July 20, 2015 – “No roads deal in Lansing as Michigan House prepares for break”
PewTrust.org, July 6, 2015 – “Transportation trumps 'no taxes' in many states”
Tax Justice Blog, June 29, 2015 – “Gas tax changes  take effect July 1”
Calendar of Events
- Wisconsin Concrete Pavement Association Golf Outing: Wednesday, August 19th at The Oaks in Cottage Grove. Registration is now open.
- TDA Annual Meeting: Thursday, September 17th. Please note the new date.
- Wisconsin Railroad Association's Freight Rail Day: Tuesday, October 20th
- TDA Fly-in 2016: April 6-7th
@TDAWisconsin, Now on Twitter
Racine buses. Green Bay port. Rail lines in Superior. Waukesha Airport. Roads we all use. WI’s transpo network: heart of our economy.
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