Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) today urged the Senate to support his amendment to the Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill that would ensure states receive a fair share of the total available amount of funds in the Federal-Aid Highway Program.
In a speech on the Senate floor, Coats said, "The Highway Trust Fund provision in the current bill makes a mockery of the phrase "Trust Fund.' Americans believe that the tax dollars they pay when filling up at the gas pump is returned to the states to build roads and repair bridges, but the reality is that many states like Indiana receive fewer funds than they pay into the system.
"The funding model in the current legislation unfairly rewards states that collected earmarks in the past while punishing those that didn't play the game," added Coats. "My amendment would ensure each state receives their fair share of the total available highway funds rather than continue to subsidize the needs of other states."
The Coats amendment would allow Indiana to receive the same percentage of available highway funding as Hoosiers contribute when they pay gas taxes at the pump. The highway bill, in its current form, locks in the precedent that so-called "winner states" will continue to receive more than their fair share of highway funding while traditional "donor" states like Indiana will continue to receive a reduced share.
Indiana residents pay approximately 2.71 percent of the total federal gas tax. Under the current legislation, Indiana would receive only 2.35 percent of the total gas tax distribution -- a difference that translates into nearly $300 million in additional highway funding. As proposed in the legislation, the funding formula would be based on a state's historical average from Fiscal Years 2005-2009. If a state received fewer highway funds in past years, that state will continue to receive a reduced share. The Coats amendment would address this inequity by making sure states receive their fair share of the total distribution available in the Federal-Aid Highway Program.
The Coats amendment is scheduled to receive a vote in the Senate as early as Tuesday.