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Introduction of Pilot Project for Tools Needed for Funding Challenges

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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* Mr. BLUMENAUER. Madam Speaker, I rise to introduce legislation authorizing a pilot project to develop the tools needed by private industry, the IRS, and the Department of Transportation to meet our infrastructure funding challenges for the next century.

* Nothing is more essential to restoring the economy, revitalizing our communities, and protecting our environment than the effort to rebuild and renew America. The U.S. faces steep infrastructure challenges. Our infrastructure inventory is in poor repair and much of it is outdated--not just decades, but often centuries old. Our effort to rebuild and renew that infrastructure is stalled because of a funding impasse. The Highway Trust Fund nearly exhausted its funding several times recently and it is clear that our existing funding mechanisms are insufficient to meet our current, much less future, needs. Congress must consider new revenue sources to meet our infrastructure challenges and must work with transportation users to find the most efficient means of raising this revenue.

* Most of America's transportation investment ability is premised on the gas tax. This source is becoming obsolete as vehicles are increasingly efficient, making increased demands on our infrastructure while contributing fewer resources. The current revenue system generates only two-thirds of the revenue needed to maintain current levels of investment.

* While Congress waits, others are seeking innovative solutions to this challenging problem: the Oregon Department of Transportation conducted successful tests of mileage-based revenue systems that seamlessly protected privacy while applying a user fee; two blue ribbon panels called for further exploration of such a system; and I have introduced prior legislation that would fund tests of such systems in each state. Under the Transportation Finance Innovation Demonstration Act, the concrete pumping industry has stepped forward to create a pilot project exploring how a mileage system would work in practice.

* In an unintended consequence of the JOBS Act of 2004, concrete pumping trucks pay gasoline tax on 100 percent of their fuel consumption, even though 50 percent of their fuel is consumed at construction sites in stationary operation. Concrete pumping trucks already collect much of the necessary information about distance traveled and fuel consumption necessary for the function of a mileage-based fee. With a few minor hardware and software additions, concrete pumps nationwide could collect and transmit data to the IRS in a highly accurate and secure manner.

* The legislation directs the Department of the Treasury to work with the Department of Transportation to establish a demonstration project providing a refund of gasoline taxes to concrete pumping trucks and the imposition of an off-setting mileage fee reflecting the distance the concrete pumping truck traveled on U.S. roadways.

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