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Nov 4, 201504:53 PMTransportation Matters

with Debby Jackson

Can Paul Ryan help get a long-term transportation deal done?

(page 1 of 2)

There has certainly been a flurry of activity in Washington, D.C. Despite a great deal of controversy, Congress reached a bipartisan deal to avoid a government shutdown and the House of Representatives elected its youngest speaker since 1869 — and the first one from Wisconsin.

Paul Ryan will have the herculean task of presiding over a raucous Republican majority while trying to unify, reform, and govern. It is certainly an exciting time for Wisconsin and I join all of the other well-wishers from the Badger State who hope Speaker Ryan will use his intellect, personality, and energy to forge a new era for Congress and the nation.

Many politicos are saying that getting the fiscal deal done prior to Ryan taking over as speaker will give him a relatively clean slate to start, or at least some room to breathe. The deal suspends the nation’s debt limit through March 2017 and increases federal spending for domestic and defense programs by more than $80 billion over the next two years.

Former House Speaker John Boehner explained it like this: “I didn’t want him to walk into a dirty barn of you know what. I’ve done my best to try to clean it up.”

When it comes to reaching a deal on surface transportation, however, there is still some stuff on the barn floor. Congress recently passed and the president signed a three-week extension of the program. It will run through Nov. 20. Three weeks is not a lot of breathing room.

Consensus on real solutions for many big-ticket issues has been elusive in Washington, D.C. and transportation is no exception. Up until about a decade ago, Congress had a history of coming together on six-year authorizations that were funded entirely out of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). Failing to adjust the main revenue source for the HTF — the federal gas tax — since 1993, however, meant that beginning around 2007 the balance in the fund could no longer support those planned expenditures.

Generally, the user-based revenue is about $10 billion a year short of the roughly $50 billion a year Congress continues to spend on highways and transit. So, at the federal level, we have had an eight-year run of general fund infusions and short-term extensions. With each general fund infusion, under current budget rules, Congress must find what they call “pay-fors” — a combination of non-transportation spending cuts and revenue increases.

These “pay-fors” tend to be a bit sketchy at best.


Old to new | New to old
Nov 29, 2015 05:14 pm
 Posted by  Matt Logan

All that additional revenue for expansion will accomplish is to push the national economy further toward negative growth. Why? Because highway expansions no longer produce a net benefit at the national, state, or local level like they did in 1970. Given this, why are transportation advocacy organizations discussing the need to increase revenue for a known drain on the economy? Because those groups represent the minority that will be winners under that scenario. So if you are a concrete producer, oil producer, in the trucking industry, or in the manufacturing industry, you will win with more revenue for highways. The rest of us in the majority will lose out on a better economic future.

I have been asking the TDA to cover this issue for a couple years now. I am assuming the reason they haven't picked up on it is that they know it is a national problem, but their interests are not served by fixing that problem.

Feb 18, 2017 04:49 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Paul Ryan is a spineless grinning little do nothing who'd sell his own children to further the wants of the Republican Party. He could care less about getting anything for Wisconsin roads, businesses and citizens.

He grew up on social Security but will now negate it for everyone else who's time has come to collect. A total HYPOCRITE !!

Its all about, power, greed, the Koch brothers and ALEC.

Oh and selling your state and country down the same river he'd throw his kids into.

He's patriot all right Big time. HA

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About This Blog

 Debby Jackson assumed the role of executive director of the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin after more than 15 years with the organization. In addition to her vast experience in association management and transportation advocacy, Jackson has a background in business. She leverages the breadth and depth of her professional experience, along with her knowledge of the membership and mission of TDA, to be a strong voice for robust transportation infrastructure in Wisconsin. Jackson started her career as a staff auditor with Price Waterhouse, which led to a series of accounting and corporate management positions with a major national retailer.

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