Take a Letter

Article December 28, 2000
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Last month I wrote how highway industry personnel with an
interest in the reauthorization of the federal surface
transportation act (ISTEA) could contact their representatives
and senators in Washington, D.C., before the Oct. 1 deadline for
passage of the bill. Several industry personnel have suggested
that ROADS & BRIDGES print a letter that our readers can cut
out, sign and mail or fax to their respective representatives.
With the assistance of The Road Information Program (TRIP), the
following letter is offered.

Dear __________________:

One of the most important legislative initiatives in the 105th
Congress is the reauthorization of the federal highway and mass
transit programs. The success or failure of the reauthorization
of ISTEA--which is being called NEXTEA (the National Economic
Crossroads Efficiency Act)--will directly affect the lives of
all Americans.

I am writing to ask that you work to pass a
transportation bill that provides the increases in highway
funding that are desperately needed in order to maintain,
rehabilitate, reconstruct and rebuild the lifeline to America's
economic well-being; it's highway system.

The allocation of
federal highway user-fee revenue among the states has been the
single most contentious issue in the reauthorization debate. The
irony is that the allocation debate--along with the divisive and
concomitant disputes over which state gets more funding--can
effectively be eliminated.

What is required to solve this
dilemma? Swift action on two fronts: first, the redirection of
the 1993 4.3 cent federal motor fuels tax revenue to the Highway
Trust Fund; and second, the removal of the Highway Trust Fund
from the unified federal budget.

The 4.3 cent gas tax
increase was earmarked for the general treasury fund in 1993 for
deficit reduction purposes. I believe that diversion of the 4.3
cent gas tax for non-highway purposes was an ill-advised action
in view of the U.S. DOT's assessment that an additional $15
billion in highway spending is needed annually just to maintain
existing conditions! This additional revenue could increase
every state's share of federal highway funding.

Implementation of these two actions will ensure the
reauthorization debate results in actually meeting the country's
transportation needs. Your support of these proposals would help
guarantee our state receives the maximum possible return on the
excise tax contributions made by your constituents to the
federal-aid highway program.

Sincerely,

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