Massie: No Federal Funds for Brent Spence Project
Congressman Thomas Massie said Thursday morning that there would be no federal funds available for the Brent Spence Bridge.
In a conference call with reporters, including The River City News, Massie said there was "no magic pot of money".
"So people shouldn't expect that Washington, DC in the next two years is going to come in with a check for $3 billion to fund it. I just don't see it happening," the first-term Republican from Lewis County said. "That's why I take the position to say it's not really my place because I don't have the check to bring back from Washington, DC."
"To say you can't toll this, you can't do this funding mechanism or these bonds, you can't do these loans, it would be wrong for me to place those constraints on the project."
Massie said that the Highway Trust Fund in DC is underfunded, spending $44 billion nationally while only bringing in $33 billion in fuel tax revenue. "So, it's running an $11 billion deficit and that is another problem in and of itself without factoring in the Brent Spence Bridge and other bridges that need to be built," he said.
"I'm here working on the federal side of it. It's really a legislative issue in Frankfort."
The Kentucky Legislature, which is in session currently, is not likely to pass a mechanism that would allow tolls to be collected on the Brent Spence Bridge project, a $3 billion project that would create a new space directly to the west of the current bridge. So far, the only proposals on the table to fund the project include toll revenues.
The Covington City Commission on Tuesday night was divided on whether tolls should be used with three commissioners saying they are opposed to tolls and Mayor Sherry Carran arguing that it is time to change the dialogue because she sees no alternative where tolls are not used.
"I'd like to see more money sent to Kentucky to work on the interstates and bridges," Massie said.
Will continue effort to roll back Obamacare
With the federal Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, in effect and with 200,000 people enrolled in Kentucky's kynect program, made possible through the federal program, Massie said he will continue to fight to roll back the law.
He no longer sees a path to full repeal.
"I really don't think you can go from day to night, you can't just turn off Obamacare like a switch because this thing is taking root," he said. "You have to figure out a way to incrementally roll it back." Massie said he hopes to restore what he called free market principles that create plans people want to buy and not plans that people feel forced to buy through Obamacare.
Massie also expressed concern that while 200,000 people have enrolled in the program in Kentucky, most have them have been placed in the expanded Medicaid pool and not in private plans.
"I talked to Blue Cross Blue Shield and most of their private plans have been canceled in Kentucky, so if you take out Medicaid, I believe we're still running a huge deficit in terms of the number of people who have lost their health care over the ones who have gained health care," he said.