Today, the House of Representatives passed the conference report of the surface transportation bill, commonly referred to as the "Highway Bill." The final version of the bill included changes to the Senate version that Congressman Joe Donnelly successfully advocated for on behalf of Indiana.
"During the negotiations about the highway bill, I was able to work with my Republican colleagues effectively to achieve results that benefit Indiana," said Donnelly. "Hoosiers want to see Congress work together, break through gridlock, and focus on job creation. I am pleased that the new version of the bill includes changes that help Indiana. These transportation resources create jobs by funding projects to repair roads and bridges."
Last month, Donnelly and Congressman Todd Rokita (IN-04) led a bipartisan letter to the House members of the House-Senate conference committee, who were negotiating the bill, to urge fair treatment for Indiana under the final bill's funding provisions. Every House member of the Indiana delegation -- with the exception of Rep. Larry Bucshon, who is one of the conferees -- signed on to the letter authored by Donnelly and Rokita.
In their letter, Donnelly and Rokita advocated for three specific changes to the Senate version of the bill, all of which were achieved. Changes in the conference report from the Senate version of the bill:
Prevent a decrease Indiana's transportation funding by $42 million per year (-4.5%)
In their letter, Donnelly and Rokita opposed the Bingaman amendment, under which states with public-private partnerships would have received reduced levels of highway formula funding. This provision would have decreased Indiana's transportation funding by $42 million per year or -4.5%.
That language was entirely removed from the conference report.
Protect Indiana's rate of return of contributions to the Highway Trust Fund
In their letter, Donnelly and Rokita opposed the elimination of the existing Equity Bonus Program because the program protected donor states like Indiana by requiring that states receive back no less than 92% of their contributions to the Highway Trust Fund. The original Senate version would have eliminated this protection for donor states.
In the conference report, states are assured to receive 95% of their estimated contributions and Indiana will receive about a 97% rate of return.
Maintain Indiana's current level of funding for FY2013 and increase funding for each state by an equal amount in FY2014
In their letter, Donnelly and Rokita demanded that Indiana receive fair transportation funding relative to other states.
In the conference report, in FY2013, every state will receive the same funding that they received in FY2012. In FY2014, every state will receive the same increase in funding, the first time in history that there will be an across the board, fair increase in funding for every state.