The release of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s FY 2012 budget plan comes with mixed emotions in the industry, says the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA).
Although the organization says it applauds and shares his interest in consolidating duplicative programs as identified by the Government Accounting Office (GAO), focusing funding on the core elements of the program and eliminating the diversions to non-transportation projects, the group is concerned that the Ryan plan “relies solely on the revenues going into the Highway Trust Fund to fund the program going forward.”
NSSGA says these revenue already “have been shown to fall far short of meeting the needs of surface transportation network,” the organziation notes.
What’s more, NSSGA says that the budget plan prohibits any increase in the gas user fee to fill the funding gap.
However, the organization’s members say they agree with Ryan that burgeoning deficit must be dealt with aggressively.
“We must take America back,” NSSGA Chairman of the Board Dave Thomey of Maryland Materials, Inc., North East, Md., said in his inaugural address.
“But, the nation’s highway system is the foundation of America’s economic growth and competitiveness. Continued underfunding and limiting our investment in the nation’s vascular system will only lead to increased congestion that costs millions annually in wasted fuel, lost time and higher costs down the road.”
In testimony before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, Thomey called for ending diversions of highway revenues to other programs, more project streamlining, more clarity in the process of assessing indirect and direct cumulative environmental impact analysis and mitigation, and giving aggregate resource identification and protection increased priority in land planning.
“We build more than roads, highways and buildings,” Thomey said in his closing statement.”We build the homes where we raise our families. We build the schools where we educate our children in hopes they will have a brighter future. We build the American Dream and before anything else, we want to ensure that it is still possible for all Americans.” –Tina Grady Barbaccia