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Entries in Senate (4)

Tuesday
Nov072017

Top GOP Senator won’t rule out gas tax hike for infrastructure upgrades

The Hill

November 7, 2017

The Senate’s No. 3 Republican left the door open on Tuesday to raising the federal gasoline tax to pay for infrastructure improvements — an idea currently being considered by the White House, but one that has repeatedly run into a buzz saw of opposition on Capitol Hill. 
“I’m not ruling out anything at this point,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, told reporters. “I think we need to keep our options open in terms of how we get that done.” 
“We have members who are open to all ideas about how to pay for [infrastructure],” he added. 
White House officials told a group of moderate House lawmakers last week that they are considering a gas tax hike to help offset President Trump’s infrastructure proposal. 

An industry source told The Hill that the administration is eyeing a 7-cent increase, though it’s unclear if the proposal would be included in the initial infrastructure legislation or if the administration will push to have it added at the committee level. 

It would be the first hike in the federal gasoline tax in over 20 years. The Highway Trust Fund, which provides money for road construction and other transportation projects across the country, is financed by a federal fuel tax of 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon of diesel fuel. 
“If anything is done on the Highway Trust Fund, it will happen in the context of an infrastructure discussion,” Thune said. “If that’s what we’re going to use to pay for infrastructure in this country, then we’ve got to figure out a way to fund the trust fund.”
Wednesday
Aug232017

White House: Infrastructure Plan to Come After Congress Handles Tax Reform

AASHTO Journal

August 23, 2017 

A top aide to President Trump told reporters Aug 15 that the administration plans to first pursue a tax reform plan in Congress this autumn, then turn to the long-promised infrastructure investment plan.
Gary Cohn, director of the president's National Economic Council, said the infrastructure plan would "come on the heels" of a tax overhaul, Politico reported. "We hope it's this year," he added.
While the president and others in the administration at times this year said they were close to introducing a project investment proposal for Congress to consider, the administration has so far offered only a few details and Congress has found its agenda clogged after numerous attempts to pass health care legislation.
Cohn's remarks to reporters, made at New York's Trump Tower where the president held a press conference after signing an executive order to speed environmental reviews and permitting for planned projects, indicated that the infrastructure plan might be pushed into 2018.
According to Politico, Cohn also said:
"We need to get taxes done between now and Thanksgiving. We need to get infrastructure going. As soon [as] tax comes out of the House and goes to the Senate, we'll put infrastructure in the House."
During the press conference, Trump was asked why he thinks he can get an infrastructure bill through Congress.
"Infrastructure is something that I think we'll have bipartisan support on," Trump said. "I actually think Democrats will go along with the infrastructure."
Monday
May012017

That Grantham speech on doomed transportation bill may haunt the Capitol

Colorado Senate President Kevin Grantham,Ports-to-Plains Alliance would like to express its appreciation to Colorado Senate President Kevin Grantham for his sponsorship of HB 17-1242. His impassioned words prior to the final vote in the Senate Finance Committee were spot on.

The Colorado Statesman

May 1, 2017

“We do worry about the Balkanization of our state roads system. If Colorado Springs and then northern Colorado and other RTAs start passing their own [funding and development plans], there will be donut holes throughout the state that will be left out of improvements and will never get the improvements that are needed. Maybe that’s the preferred solution for some. It’s not for me… But that is the direction we are heading, and I think it’s a dangerous one…” 

“I don’t know what would happen if it went to the people… But I know, without a doubt, that if it doesn’t get on the ballot, then it will definitely never pass. We only get so many bites at the apple — I’ve heard that a lot today — but if the number of bites we get is exactly zero, then zero is the result we will get.”

The session’s unloved grand bipartisan transportation measure, House Bill 1242, is dead, but the closing remarks — you might say the sickbed epitaph — delivered for the bill by Republican sponsor and Senate President Kevin Grantham are worth revisiting, especially given that, in the last week, and with a little more than a week left in the legislative session, three new transportation-related bills have been introduced.

Grantham spoke right before the bill was dispatched Tuesday by the Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee, addressing the bill and its critics with words that might come to resonate beyond the committee hearing, even if in a ghostlike way, floating into remarks made years from now by lawmakers begging please for someone somehow to expand I-25 south of Castle Rock or to find a way to get their aged mother or father to the doctor in the middle of the day.

Grantham said running this year’s bill was a brave and bold move. He said the bill was unloved on the left and the right because drumming up billions for much-needed transportation upgrades in a politically and ideologically divided swing state was always going to be — and is long likely going to be — a slog.

He said people in the Capitol have to begin seeing transportation in new ways, and doing that is hard to do. He suggested that the long era of roads and more roads and single-occupancy privately owned vehicles no longer serves the population of the state the way it once did — and particularly the state’s younger and older populations — and that transit, meaning mass-transit, is popular with residents even if it’s unpopular with lawmakers.

Read on… 

Thursday
Jun062013

Old tax, new fees among options for highway funding

Highly recommend this article as it outlines the pros and cons of various transportation revenue options including: raise the gasoline tax, charge drivers based on how much they drive, tap oil and natural gas drilling royalties and more transfers from the general fund.

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“The debate in Washington about the next bill is not going to be about what America needs,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said at this week’s Transportation Construction Coalition fly-in, an annual event that draws many of the country’s top infrastructure advocates. “How do we pay for it? That’s what the debate will be.”

Click here for complete article > Politico

June 6, 2013

The next highway and transit bill might be more than a year away, but a string of major infrastructure failures has lawmakers and advocates already thinking about how to boost funding.

The Highway Trust Fund is set to dive deep into the red in the coming years, a problem that has gained extra attention with last month’s collapse of an Interstate 5 bridge in Washington state, the Metro-North rail crash in Connecticut and several other major recent failures…