TRANSPORTATION EQUITY ACT: A LEGACY FOR USERS
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Mr. SANTORUM. Mr. President, I rise to make a few comments about the SAFETEA legislation. I thank the managers of the bill for working with us in trying to address some of the concerns I had about the prior legislation from last session.
As I stood here over a year ago when we debated this bill, I spoke very critically of that legislation and the damage that legislation did to Pennsylvania. Thanks to the Senator from Oklahoma and the Senator from Missouri, in particular, we have been able to address some of what I consider to be inequities in this legislation.
The point I made a year ago was that one of the major reasons for a Federal tax on gasoline in a Federal highway bill was the idea of promoting interstate commerce. Originally, the interstate system was certainly put in place for military purposes--at least ostensibly for military purposes--to move things around the country in a national emergency.
Obviously, the more pedestrian reason, if you will--probably that is a bad word to use when we talk about highways, but nevertheless, the reason that is most often used is because it is for interstate commerce, to move goods around the country, to move people around the country, for travel and tourism, a whole host of other reasons.
When you look at why the Federal Government does that, you have to step back and say transportation is a State function. Every State in the country has a transportation department. Why do we need a Federal transportation department? We need it because we have to make sure the goods that are produced in New Jersey can get to Ohio to Texas, or the goods produced in California can get to Georgia.
The fact is it is important for us to be connected. If there are situations where States are in financial difficulty and they let their roads degrade, particularly the major interstates--for example, my State is occupied increasingly with traffic that does not stop in Pennsylvania--there would be much more of an impetus if you were a local legislator to invest money on roads which Pennsylvanians used and invest a lot less money on roads that are used by folks out of State.
So we put together a Federal tax system, a gas tax, as well as Federal transportation legislation, to promote on the highway side--the transit is another piece, but we will talk about highways for a moment--to promote interstate commerce.
So we have a situation where we have States that shoulder a large burden when it comes to that interstate commerce and we have other States that are the great beneficiaries as to the burden those States shoulder in getting a lot of what is referred to as passthrough traffic. That is traffic that does not stop in your State, does not benefit your State economically, to speak of, but, in the case certainly of trucks, beats the heck out of your roads. So you are in a sense carrying the load for States that are the economic beneficiaries, whether they are the originator of the freight or the destination of the freight, whether you are a State that is a passthrough State for travel and tourism. Those are the States you want to pay particular attention to. Again, the nature of the program is to make sure we have a seamless highway system, that we have good interstate commerce.
The reason I came to the floor last year was to point out that Pennsylvania is a State that certainly shoulders the lion's share or certainly major share of this passthrough traffic. We have in Pennsylvania about as many interstates as any State in the country. I think there are three States that have more interstate miles. Texas, California and Illinois are the only three that have more interstate miles than Pennsylvania. We have 22 interstates in Pennsylvania. Actually, another one is under construction.
There are only four States that have a higher number of ton-miles than Pennsylvania. Again, they are much bigger States than little old Pennsylvania, Texas, California, Ohio and Illinois.
I will show a chart that shows the importance of interstate commerce and what Pennsylvania has to deal with. First, the statistic I throw at you, 47 percent of the trucks that go through Pennsylvania do not stop in Pennsylvania. They do not originate there and are not destined for there. We get a lot of traffic from the New England States--New Jersey, New England--that goes through Pennsylvania to get out West or comes down through Pennsylvania to get down to the South. These lines are the traffic that goes through Pennsylvania that does not stop, coming from way out here in Seattle, and they go way up to Maine and lots of points in between.
We see the resulting effect on the load of traffic in Pennsylvania. This is the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the big thick black line. That is more than 80 million tons of traffic passing through Pennsylvania on this one road. We see several others that have between 60 and 80 million tons of truck traffic, heavy truck traffic. We have heard in the Senate the vehicles that do the most damage to the highways are your heavy trucks.
Yes, we are in an industrial area. We have a lot of heavy steel, coal, and lots of other products that travel through our State. They do an enormous amount of damage. You throw on top of that the mountainous terrain we have in Pennsylvania, the numerous bridges. We have several thousand bridges that are in disrepair. We have lots of bridges, we have lots of mountains, we have a lot of freezing and thawing in Pennsylvania which wreaks havoc on the roads. So we have a lot of problems we have to deal with compounded by this heavy through traffic.
When I came to the Senate last year and said I was going to oppose the bill in the Senate--because here is a State, I argue, that is one of the poster children for a Federal Highway System that focuses money on States such as Pennsylvania because it carries such a heavy burden for the rest of the country without any direct economic benefit. This was a State, logically, given the topography, the climate, and the congestion and traffic we bear, it would be a State that should do well under a Federal formula. Certainly as Members have said to me in the past, we have.
However, under the bill last year, we actually became a donor State. We became a State that was going to subsidize the rest of the country. Here we are in Pennsylvania with this heavy burden of truck traffic. We rank fifth in the country in ton miles in Pennsylvania. Here is little Pennsylvania.
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Mr. SANTORUM. Mr. President, you have States such as Texas and States out West and many other States that are bigger geographically, such as Georgia. Yet Pennsylvania is fifth in the country in the ton miles our roads have to sustain. So what we are asking for is a little bit of equity.
I see the chairman is in the Chamber. We have gotten equity, at least some degree of equity. Everybody always thinks they should always get more equity, but we have gotten some degree of equity in this bill. We are not, under this bill, a donor State. Being one I think was underserved. But we still, thanks to the chairman's amendment, get only a 15-percent increase in the amount of funding from the last bill to this bill. That is lower than any other State in the country. Actually, we tie with two other States as getting the lowest rate of increase. So we are a donee State, but we are declining as far as the amount of money.
I would argue that is inappropriate given what I have laid out here and the purpose of a Federal highway bill. But we have done better. And we have done well enough that I, as you saw from the votes I have cast on this bill, have supported this legislation and will certainly support passage of this legislation.
We have a serious problem in Pennsylvania. We have a lot of bad roads. Twenty-seven percent of our roads in Pennsylvania are rated by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics as mediocre to poor. I see the Presiding Officer from Georgia. We have 27.1 percent of our roads rated mediocre to poor. Georgia has .2 percent rated mediocre to poor. Georgia, under this bill, receives a 30-percent increase. We receive a 15-percent increase. The Senator from Georgia just happens to be in the Chair, and I just wanted to point that out because it is a pretty big contrast.
The Senator from Georgia has fought hard for his State, and he is a donor State, so I know he believes he deserves more. He has fought very hard and, obviously, very effectively to make sure his State has been treated, in his mind, and I am sure in the minds of the people of Georgia, more equitably.
But I would make the argument that States around the perimeter of America really do benefit from States such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and the States through the middle part of the country that have to carry all this traffic to and from the border regions. That is why, if you look at the formula, most of the States that do not do well under these formulas are border States. Again, the reason is they do not have to carry the passthrough traffic, particularly the heavy traffic that we in Pennsylvania have to carry. In addition, they do not have the weather problems and the topography problems and a whole host of other problems that we have to deal with. Forty-two percent of our bridges in Pennsylvania are structurally deficient or obsolete. We have serious problems.
So when I came here last year and opposed the bill last year, I did so because of the concern I had about the way my State was being treated. I am grateful, again, to the chairman for his effort to bring Pennsylvania into some semblance of equity. I thank him for that. I thank the chairman of the Banking Committee, Senator Shelby, for the work he has done with me on the Banking Committee on the transit piece. Transit is a very important piece of the transportation infrastructure of Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, for example, 70 percent of the cost of our transit system is provided for by the State. There are seven States that do not contribute anything to their transit systems. Twenty-eight States contribute less than what the Federal Government contributes to their transit systems.
So we made a major contribution in Pennsylvania to transit. I thank the chairman of the Banking Committee, Senator Shelby, for making sure Pennsylvania is treated fairly under this legislation.
One final point I would like to make. I see my colleague from Ohio is here. He probably can make a similar argument about the passthrough traffic that goes through Ohio.
I thank the chairman for his effort on the Job Access and Reverse Commute Program. There is a 73-percent increase over TEA-21. This is a piece of legislation that we were able to get into TEA-21. It has been a very important program for a lot of our innercities to be able to get to jobs out in the suburban ring where job development is certainly faster than it is in the core innercities. This transportation program has proven, at least in my State--in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in particular, and Harrisburg and other places--to be a very important project, to be able to increase the number of employed in the core urban areas with better quality jobs, and the availability of a better life. So I thank the chairman for his increase, and I certainly hope he will hold that increase in conference.
With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor.