Northern Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie has a plan that he claims would keep the federal Highway Trust Fund solvent.
The Lewis County Republican introduced on Thursday the DRIVE Act of 2015 would not raise the gas tax and would change which projects receive funding from the federal fund. DRIVE is short for Developing Roadway Infrastructure for a Vibrant Economy.
Massie joined Congressmen Jim Jordan (R-OH), Justin Amash (R-MI), Jim Birdenstine (R-OK), and Ken Buck (R-CO) as original co-sponsors.
What would get the ax from funding from the Highway Trust Fund? Bike paths, sidewalks, mass transit. “Currently, gas tax revenue is diverted from the federal Highway Trust Fund for bike paths, sidewalks, mass transit, and other local projects,"Massie said in a news release. "But due to inflation and fuel efficiency improvements of today's vehicles, there is no longer enough money in the Highway Trust Fund to maintain our nation's critical highways and bridges while also funding local projects that have no federal nexus. By eliminating diversion of gas tax revenues, the DRIVE Act ensures that the Highway Trust Fund can fulfill its namesake duty – to fund highways, without an increase in the gas tax rate.”
Americans pay an 18.4 cents-per-gallon fuel tax to fund the Highway Trust Fund, but this does not generate enough annual revenue for the obligations in MAP-21, the federal surface transportation bill that passed in 2012. The fund is on the verge of insolvency, and event that could take place at the end of May. Key groups and politicians, particularly governors in cash-strapped states, have called for an increase in the federal gas tax
to better fund the program.
In July 2014, Congress transferred nearly $10 billion from the General Fund to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent. In an attempt to offset the unplanned expenditure from the General Fund, Congress reduced pension deposit requirements on companies, with the tenuous expectation that this would temporarily produce more corporate tax revenue. In May 2015, it is anticipated that Congress will be required to provide another stopgap funding measure to prevent insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund.
Annually, over $9 billion of the Highway Trust Fund goes to the Mass Transit Account, which provides funds for local public transportation projects, including subways, light rail, buses, and streetcars. Additional authorizations exist for sidewalks and bike paths to be funded from the Highway Trust Fund. The DRIVE Act repeals these authorizations and reduces Highway Trust Fund obligations by approximately $10 billion annually, Massie's statement said.