In a news conference on July 6, Senate Environment and Public Works Chairperson Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said that her committee would seek to pass a two-year surface transportation reauthorization bill, instead of a six-year bill that she had previously said was her goal. Boxer said the bill would maintain current funding levels while adjusting for inflation, authorizing $109 billion over two years.
Acknowledging that current Highway Trust Fund revenue will not support this level of investment, Boxer said that roughly $6 billion a year in supplemental revenue must be identified to support this proposal. She stopped short of calling for a gas-tax increase and said that any funding decisions were ultimately up to the Senate Finance Committee.
Calling her bill "modest," Boxer said a two-year bill would be easier to both pay for and pass in the current fiscal climate and that the need for the extra infrastructure spending was necessary to boost the economic recovery.
During the press conference, Boxer also released a chart comparing her proposed state-by-state highway funding levels with the funding levels that would be possible under the House passed budget resolution. House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) will release his committee’s proposal for a six-year reauthorization bill July 7 that is expected to comply with the funding limits set in the House budget resolution. If passed, those funding levels would be 30-35% below this year’s funding, which Boxer said would cost 490,627 jobs at a time when the construction industry is already reeling from the economic downturn.