Congressman Larry Bucshon (IN-08) released the following statement following his testimony to the Indiana Legislature's Joint Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
Congressman Bucshon (IN-08) states:
"I was honored to have been invited by Sen. Tom Wyss and Rep. Ed Soliday to testify today on MAP 21. As the only Hoosier that served as a conferee on the Senate-House Highway Bill Reauthorization Conference Committee, I was able to provide a unique perspective on the future of transportation and what it means for the states.
"For Indiana, I was proud to have removed the Bingaman-Durbin amendment that would have penalized our state $40 million a year because of our public private partnership. Additionally, I am glad that Indiana will now be receiving 97 percent of the funds paid by Hoosiers into the Highway Trust Fund when we have been historically receiving a 92 percent rate of return. With these victories, MAP 21 puts Indiana in a better position for future legislation."
Congressman Bucshon's Opening Remarks as written:
Thank you Senator Wyss and Representative Soliday for having me here today. As many of you know, I was selected and served as a conferee on the Highway Reauthorization earlier this year. I was one of seven freshman chosen for the conference committee and personally attended many of the negotiating sessions with the House and Senate staff.
Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, known as MAP 21, is a fully funded 18 month reauthorization of our transportation programs. Every state will receive the same amount of money they received in Fiscal Year 2012, and for Fiscal Year 2013, each state will receive the same percentage increase.
Funding levels for each state was the final thing we negotiated, past midnight on the final day of discussions. In the past, states like Indiana have received less than what they have contributed and have been considered a donor state. During negotiations, myself and a few of my colleagues made it clear that past funding formulas were a non-starter with us -- we wanted greater fairness from the system for our constituents and states.
Indiana's rate of return had previously been 92%, it will now be over 97%. These funding formulas still aren't perfect and we have additional work to do, however, this is a step in right direction for future transportation bills and for Indiana's infrastructure projects.
Many of you may have heard that in the original Senate version of MAP21, Senators Bingaman and Durbin offered an amendment that would have punished Indiana for the innovative lease of the toll road. Indiana would have been punished by withholding over $40 million a year in federal funding. This was also a contentious issue during conference meetings and I personally negotiated with Senator Durbin's office on this issue.
I'm proud that our efforts were successful and this language was not included in the final bill -- again preserving more than $40 million per year.
In addition to these major victories for Indiana, MAP 21 streamlines the environmental review process, provides more flexibility to states and consolidates nearly 2/3 of our transportation programs.
There will now be firm deadlines for agencies to review permits where previously there were no deadlines for an agency to review a permit. Any project that has under $5million in federal funding will not have to go through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process. There is also an expedited process for projects that are destroyed by a natural disaster such as a tornado or a hurricane. In the past, those projects had to go through the entire process, as if we were building a new road rather than replacing it. These reforms should reduce the time it takes to finish a project from 15 years to seven years -- saving both time and scarce resources.
In SAFTEA-LU states were required to spend 10% of their federal dollars on building bike paths and beautifying right of ways. While I believe these things are important to local communities, gas tax dollars should not be mandated to fund these types of projects. Under MAP 21, states will be able to use 50% of their allotted "enhancement" money for transportation related projects. We need to focus our gas tax dollars on moving people and products while giving flexibility to state and local governments.
One final Indiana specific portion of MAP 21 relates to our RV industry. New emission standards require RVs to have additional equipment, making them heavier and exceeding the federal law of weight per axle that can travel over bridges. Motorcoaches and city buses had previously received an exception to be able to travel freely over bridges, however RVs were not included. We added language that would include RVs, freeing up one more regulation on this industry and hopefully creating greater demand and more jobs for hard working Hoosiers.
While MAP 21 is not a perfect bill, it is a major improvement from SAFTEA-LU and puts Indiana in a better position for future bills. I look forward to answering any questions you may have.