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Transportation Secretary Finds Support In Connecticut For Highway Trust Fund

by Christine Stuart | Jul 3, 2014 5:00pm
(6) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: State Capitol, Transportation

Christine Stuart photo

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx stopped in Connecticut for a few hours Thursday to solicit the help of state officials in encouraging Congress to shore up the U.S. Transportation Department’s Highway Trust Fund.

But there was little he needed to say to convince Connecticut’s Congressional delegation. U.S. Reps. Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro, and Elizabeth Esty attended the meeting in Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office along with U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, and each offered their support for the measure.

Foxx said he’s not just preaching to the choir in his quest to make sure the fund remains solvent. He was in Kentucky yesterday having a similar conversation with officials in that state.

“The reality though is we’re having the wrong conversation about infrastructure in America,” Foxx said. “Our country has been built on our infrastructure. We are the envy of the world . . . But to keep that place and frankly to pass it on to a younger generation, we have to do much more than we’re doing.”

DeLauro likened the situation regarding the fund to a government shutdown in the transportation sector. She said the Transportation Department finds itself in this situation as a result of a Republican majority in the U.S. House that “has manufactured a crisis. It threatens to destabilize our economy and it will cost us 700,000 jobs.”

Foxx said his state tour is partly about averting a crisis, but it’s also about signaling to the country “that we are not in a good place here.”

The fact that the “Highway Trust Fund is on the verge of insolvency should matter to every American,” Foxx said.

The fund has been kept solvent for the past five years by an estimated 27 legislative “patches,” but now it is down to about $4 billion. When the money runs out, it means the federal government will stop reimbursing the state for a portion of its transportation projects.

Foxx said states will see on average a 28 percent decrease in resources.

Malloy said Connecticut could survive without the federal funds for about 30 to 35 days, but it would be unable to go out to bid for about 85 projects.

Those 85 projects represent about $380 million worth of construction on the highway side and about $185 million on the transit side in Connecticut. All of them are in jeopardy if the fund becomes insolvent.

Malloy said he’s going to be having a conversation with governors from across the country next week in Tennessee at the National Governors Association meeting.

“I can’t imagine Republicans being so crazy — so crazy that they would allow this to cripple our economy,” Malloy said.

Connecticut’s Congressional delegation still has trouble comprehending Republican opposition to allocating money to the trust fund. Republicans have been willing to take a program that, for the last 60 years, has enjoyed wide bipartisan support to the brink of insolvency, Courtney said.

“The last thing we need is to have a cut-off of funds that are going to help a construction sector that is finally getting off its knees from the Great Recession of 2008,” Courtney said. “It is imperative that this external pressure . . . continues because that is the only way, if we look at the pattern of the last 18 months, that we can get this House Republican leadership shaken loose to simply allow a vote to take place.”

There are several competing proposals in Congress for shoring up the trust fund, including a plan by U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy — who didn’t attend the press conference Thursday — that would increase the federal gas tax by 12 cents per gallon. The Obama administration’s plan unveiled in February would end the fund’s reliance on the gas tax and substitute savings derived from closing corporate tax loopholes. A Republican plan would use money from the U.S. Postal Service by ending Saturday mail delivery.

The money could run out as soon as Aug. 1.

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(6) Comments

posted by: Noteworthy | July 3, 2014  7:38pm

There he goes again - we could only survive for a month without federal funds? BS. Quit stealing all the double taxation on gas and diesel and we would have plenty of transportation money.

posted by: dano860 | July 4, 2014  7:01am

Sure, rape the poor working slob for another $.12. Trust fund? Who in their right mind trusts these clowns? They will end up raiding this fund to support the “deserving illegals.” The ones that are beginning to squat in our country.
Where are all these projects that are suppose to be happening? We have the State involved in two bridges in eastern Ct and all they do is drag out the timeline and run up the costs. We have over two years invested in talking and delays. Putting it succinctly I would have to say, “they s**k at their job.”
Dannel says 85 jobs going out to bid, that could represent 85 years before they see any action! (If the State is involved)

posted by: mwh31 | July 4, 2014  12:03pm

Remember transportation is NOT just building and repairing roads. For quality of life issues, for environmental issues the issue of rail transportation is part of the picture and should be an ever increasing part. The highway trust fund, all the taxes that are included in our now $4.00 gallon gas are being spent to put more and more cars on the road. New ways of thinking are needed. We want more for roads and simultaneously Congress is cutting their subsidy to rail travel. BAD THINKING.

posted by: Jesterr72 | July 4, 2014  1:39pm

There they go again…Democrats steal huge tax revenue from the Transportation Fund, move it into the General Fund and use it to provide all kinds of expensive freebies to illegal aliens and other stupid “social justice” nonsense.  Then they claim they have no money.  The jig is up. Democrats are destroying the middle class and, therefore, America.

posted by: frankfgsr | July 4, 2014  8:41pm

The controlling Dems have created a fiscal mess in Ct.  everyone of these DEMS.  should be be voted out of office. to save our state.As for Sen. MURPHY the voters won’t forget him and his proposal to add .12 cents to the FED.  GAS TAX which in conn our gas tax one of the highest in the country HE IS A BUM!!!

posted by: QuestionMark | July 6, 2014  7:14pm

Obama sent his appointed henchmman at taxpayer expense
to do his presidential prodding in Connecticut.  The people are not impressed by Obama’s ploy.