The transportation bill passed by Congress on Friday includes a provision important to Cleveland, Toledo and Ohio Great Lakes ports urging that funds collected through the Harbor Maintenance Tax should be used to maintain and improve our nation's harbors and ports.
"This is a commonsense measure and is an important first step toward ensuring that the funds collected through the Harbor Maintenance Tax are used responsibly and in a manner that supports our nation's harbors and ports," said Portman. "With the economy still struggling to recover, it is more important than ever to ensure robust commerce at our nation's harbors and ports to grow the economy and create jobs."
"The Port of Toledo thanks Senator Portman for his efforts on this very important issue," said Paul Toth, President and CEO for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. "The Port of Toledo supports 7,000 jobs and has an annual economic impact of over $1 billion on the local economy; therefore, sufficient dredging is a critical annual need. It is essential to keep the Port of Toledo open for business, and access to additional funding already being collected for harbor maintenance but spent elsewhere would ensure that our recent investments to modernize and expand the Port will not be in vain."
The conference report includes a provision expressing the Sense of the Congress that the Administration should request and Congress should fully expend each year all of the revenues collected in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for the operation and maintenance of the nation's federally maintained ports.
Senator Portman fought to have this language included in the conference report and sent a letter to transportation conferees in April requesting that this language be included. The report also contains an important provision requiring the President's budget to provide a roadmap for our nation's system of harbors and ports that includes an estimate of the nation's harbor maintenance needs and an estimate of the average annual amount of appropriations needed to support our harbors and ports. Harbors and ports support an estimated 13 million jobs, according to the Maritime Administration.
Dredging is an ongoing concern in the Great Lakes, including the Ports of Toledo and Cleveland, where the Army Corps of Engineers estimates it needs to dredge more than 18 million cubic yards of material from harbors to ensure safe navigation.
Senator Portman is also a cosponsor of the Harbor Maintenance Act of 2011 (S.412), which would require all funds raised by the Harbor Maintenance Tax be directed toward our nation's ports and harbors.