At a hearing Thursday on Capitol Hill, Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta presented the Bush Administration's TEA-21 reauthorization bill. The bill, entitled SafeTea (Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2003), recommended highway program funding of $190 billion over the next six years. This funding level maintains the highway program near its current funding level, but with no forecasted growth. The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) believes the investment levels are far below the amounts needed to repair and improve conditions on the nation's highway system.
"There are many positive elements in the administration's proposal that the AGC supports," said Stephen Sandherr, AGC CEO. "These provisions include environmental streamlining, safety initiatives, capturing the user fee from ethanol, eliminating gas tax evasion and spending down the Highway Trust Fund balance. AGC has been advocating for these positions over the last two years, and when enacted, will vastly improve the delivery of vitally needed safety and congestion relief projects."
Mineta has acknowledged that the funding levels included in the bill are not at the level the industry and several states have been seeking, but that they are at record levels. He said the Administration made an effort to get as much investment as possible out of existing sources of revenue. He also indicated that the Administration is not seeking a user fee increase.
"We appreciate that the administration looked under the sofa cushions to find as much revenue as possible. AGC will be working with Congress to find additional revenue for the program," said Sandherr.