LaHood: Letting states opt out of highway program ‘not best way forward’

|  May 12, 2009 |

Regardless mof whether the funding formula used to distribute federal highway money to states is unfair, I’m still not convinced that letting states opt out of participating in the federal highway program is a better solution…or one that even makes sense. (Disclaimer here: This is my own opinion, not that of Better Roads or any of the Construction Media Division publications.)

And Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who once said the federal highway funding formula was unfair while in Congress, now says allow states to opt out of the federal Highway Trust Fund “would not be the best way forward,” according to a report from CQ Politics.  

He says Congress should instead find a way to balance the formula, according to the report.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) introduced a bill a few weeks ago that would allow states to keep the money collected from the federal 18.4-cents-a-gallon tax instead of the money going into the trust fund.  Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) is sponsoring the proposed legislation in the House.

Hutchison and Flake say that their own states don’t receive a dollar-for-dollar return and get back less money than they pay in.

But Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minnesota), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Commitee, says a more uniform national funding system needs to be created.

Allowing states to opt out of paying for federal transportation projects would be counterproductive to trying to get such a system in place, an Oberstar aide said, according to the CQ Politics report.

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