DOLE SUPPORTS SENATE ACTION TO SAVE HIGHWAY TRUST FUND
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole applauded Senate passage late yesterday of a measure to shore up the Highway Trust Fund and prevent its predicted bankruptcy.
"We absolutely cannot afford to have North Carolina jobs, transportation infrastructure and our economy threatened by the looming bankruptcy of the Highway Trust Fund," said Dole. "Taking action to transfer sorely needed funding was a good short term solution, but reforming this deficient system must be a top priority in next year's highway bill."
The Highway Trust Fund, which provides roughly half of all funding for surface transportation projects, was projected to run a deficit due to the structure of the current surface transportation bill, the proliferation of more fuel efficient vehicles and a change in driving habits due to rising fuel costs. Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that the Fund had only $1.4 billion remaining, which would not even sustain the government's obligations for the remainder of the month. The legislation that passed yesterday, H.R. 6532, will transfer $8 billion from the general fund into the Highway Trust Fund, providing a temporary backstop against the projected shortfall.
According to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, if the Highway Trust Fund were to go bankrupt this year, North Carolina would stand to lose $290 million in transportation infrastructure funding and more than 10,000 jobs.
In June 2008, Dole called on Senate leadership and the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee to take immediate action to resolve the shortfall, which helped lead to yesterday's Senate action.
H.R. 6532 has been sent back to the House of Representatives, where it is awaiting consideration.
Dole voted to pass the 2005 transportation bill, which provided $5.1 billion for North Carolina's highways, an increase of 31 percent over the last bill. It also increased the amount North Carolina receives from the Highway Trust Fund, from 90.5 cents to 92 cents for every dollar contributed by the state. North Carolina also received a 78 percent increase in transit funding for the state in this bill.
Dole has also secured roughly $350 million for North Carolina transportation infrastructure through the appropriations process.
In September 2007, Dole helped introduce the Build America Bonds Act, which would provide $50 billion in new transportation infrastructure funding through a one-time bonding program, empowering states and local governments to build or repair projects across all modes of transportation, including roads, bridges, transit, rail and waterways.