As you formulate the Budget Resolution for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012, we respectfully request that you apportion all FY13 estimated Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) proceeds towards this tax's intended purpose--maintenance dredging of our nation's ports and harbors.
Our harbors and related waterways are significant drivers of our economy, employing more than 13 million Americans and conveying almost $4 trillion in international trade. Almost a quarter century ago, Congress recognized the importance of these assets and created a reliable stream of maintenance dredging funding in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF). Unfortunately, over the last decade, the Bush and Obama Administrations have failed to fully utilize this fund, allocating only one-half to two-thirds of the revenue generated by the HMT towards harbor maintenance.
As a result, the HMTF has already accumulated a surpluses of more than $7 billion while the majority of our nation's harbors-including eight of the 10 largest ports--are not being maintained to their fully authorized widths and depths, thus constricting our ability to export products, engage in international trade and create jobs. The Administration's request for FY2012 continues this trend, only allocating around half of the HMTF's projected collections to this fund's intended purpose.
At a time when the national unemployment rate continues to exceed eight percent, we believe it is imperative that all the revenue generated by the HMTF be fully committed towards dredging our nation's ports, an activity that will put Americans back to work and return economic prosperity to our fishing, manufacturing, agriculture and energy sectors.
From our perspective, it is inappropriate for Congress to impose a tax for one purpose only to utilize the proceeds from this tax as a mechanism to finance spending on other programs. If we allow this trend to continue we are only degrading the taxpayer's trust of "user-pays" accounts within the Federal government, such as the HMTF, the Highway Trust Fund, and the Aviation Trust Fund.
Considering this information, we respectfully ask that you fully apportion the estimated HMT receipts towards maintenance dredging. We thank you in advance for your thoughtful consideration of this request and stand ready to assist you in any way necessary.
The full list of letter signers are U.S. Representatives Tim Bishop (D, NY-01), Jeff Landry (R, LA-03), Leonard Boswell (D, IA-03), Corinne Brown (D, FL-03), Larry Bucshon (R, IN-08), Shelley Moore Capito (R, WV-02), Lois Capps (D, CA-23), Michael Capuano (D, MA-08), Russ Carnahan (D, MO-03), John Carney (D, DE-AL), Bill Cassidy (R, LA-06), John Conyers Jr. (D, MI-14), Jerry Costello (D, IL-12), Peter DeFazio (D, OR-04), Robert Dold (R, IL-10), Sean Duffy (R, WI-07), Blake Farenthold (R, TX-27), Bob Filner (D, CA-51), Trey Gowdy (R, SC-04), Sam Graves (R, MO-06), Michael Grimm (R, NY-13), Gregg Harper (R, MS-03), Andy Harris (R, MD-01), Alcee Hastings (D, FL-23), Brain Higgins (D, NY-27), Ruben Hinojosa (D, TX-15), Mazie Hirono (D, HI-02), Bill Huizenga (R, MI-02), Bill Johnson (R, OH-06), Walter Jones (R, NC-03), Marcy Kaptur (D, OH-09), Mike Kelly (R, PA-03), Dennis Kucinich (D, OH-10), Steve LaTourette (R, OH-14), Barbara Lee (D, CA-09), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R, MO-09), Doris Matsui (D, CA-05), Mike McIntyre (D, NC-07), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R, WA-05), Patrick Meehan (R, PA-07), Michael Michaud (D, ME-02), Candice Miller (R, MI-10), Jerrold Nadler (D, NY-08), Grace Napolitano (D, CA-38), Bill Owens (D, NY-23), Ron Paul (R, TX-14), Gary Peters (D, MI-09), Thomas Petri (R, WI-06), Pedro Pierluisi (D, PR), Bill Posey (R, FL-15), Nick Rahall II (D, WV-03), Jim Renacci (R, OH-16), Laura Richardson (D, CA-37), Cedric Richmond (D, LA-02), Steve Scalise (R, LA-01), Robert Schilling (R, IL-17), Aaron Schock (R, IL-18), Kurt Schrader (D, OR-05), David Scott (D, GA-13), Bill Shuster (R, PA-09), Albio Sires (D, NJ-13), Louise Slaughter (D, NY-28), Steve Southerland (R, FL-02), Jackie Speier (D, CA-12), Pete Stark (D, CA-13), Betty Sutton (D, OH-13), Mike Thompson (D, CA-01), Tim Walberg (R, MI-07), Daniel Webster (R, FL-08), Joe Wilson (R, SC-02), and Don Young (R, AK-01).