Utah League of Cities and Towns

Making Life BETTER

Congressman Rob Bishop (R) – Federal Transportation Funding

Transportation infrastructure is obviously key to our economy and critical to our cities and states as a whole.

The current status of the federal highway transportation fund illustrates how years of bad policies and runaway government spending are bankrupting this country. In 2010, the highway trust fund brought in $35 billion in revenue, but $50 billion in spending was authorized. Over the past three years, Congress has had to transfer approximately $35 billion from the General Fund into the Highway Trust Fund to keep it solvent. Continued spending at this unsustainable rate could mean that the Trust Fund goes broke in 2013.

Many in Washington seem to think we have a revenue, problem, not a spending problem. I disagree. The trust fund cannot support the Senate’s proposed two-year bill at current spending levels. Even extending funding for one year at current levels would require a 50% cut in 2013 to keep the Trust Fund solvent. We must maintain the long-term viability of the Highway Trust Fund and the only way to do this is to stop spending money the federal government does not have.

The House proposal builds upon and improves the successful Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan program and seeks to align spending with revenues without raising taxes. The measure dedicates $6 billion to the TIFIA program resulting in $60 billion in low interest loans to fund at least $120 billion in transportation projects. Providing additional funding for TIFIA will help meet demand for credit assistance for transportation projects and enable increased leveraging of highway trust fund dollars with state, local and private sector funding.

In addition to addressing the ongoing insolvency of the federal highway trust fund, the House bill reduces bureaucratic red-tape in the approval and permitting process and importantly gives states greater autonomy and flexibility to meet their unique transportation needs. The House legislation helps states be less beholden to onerous federal mandates that dictate where funding must be spent, which can lead to an inefficient use of federal highway funds.

Bureaucratic red-tape has long caused a needless delay in infrastructure projects. According to the Federal Highway Administration, highway projects can take up to 15 years to complete. By streamlining the project review process, we can ensure environmental protections remain in place while investing infrastructure resources in a much more effective manner.

The combination of these improvements will bring stability to the struggling highway fund and will maximize the flexibility states have. This will help ensure that Utahns and all hard-working taxpayers get a better investment from their transportation dollars.

While the House bill is not a panacea, it is certainly a step in the right direction, especially when compared to the alternative Senate proposal, which would raise taxes at a time when Americans should be keeping more of their hard earned money. The last thing we should be doing is asking hard-working taxpayers to give us more of their money, placing an undue financial burden on many employers, which will likely result in the loss of many private sector jobs.

Get to know you questions:

What city do you live in and why do you enjoy living there?

My wife and I are proud to call Brigham City home. While I am originally from Kaysville, my wife is a lifelong resident of Brigham City. I moved to Brigham City in 1974. That same year, I took a job at Box Elder High School. Of the 28 years I served as a teacher in Utah’s Public School System, 23 of those were spent at Box Elder High. Brigham City is a wonderful community and my wife and I have enjoyed living and raising our family there. Having taught for over 20 years at Box Elder High, I had a unique opportunity to watch so many in our community grow up. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to teach many exceptional young adults and watch them grow up over years.

What is your favorite collegiate sports team in the state?

I am a proud alumnus of the University of Utah, however, having children that have attended other universities throughout the state makes it hard to pick a favorite. I will cheer for the U or any school in my district.