News

Shuster Becomes U.S. House T&I Committee Chairman

November 28, 2012 by · Comments Off on Shuster Becomes U.S. House T&I Committee Chairman
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Earlier, PHIA reported that PA Congressman Bill Shuster (R-Blair) was poised to become the next chairman of the influential U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee (T&I).  Today, the Republican majority made the move official and Shuster will become the chairman when Congress convenes its 113th Session in January.  To view a copy of the press release by Rep. Shuster’s office, click here.

Shuster was recently endorsed for the powerful committee post by the U.S. House Republican Steering Committee, a group of key GOP leaders.    Current House T&I Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) abandoned his pursuit of a waiver of House Republican term limit rules, under which he must step down from his leadership of the panel at the end of 2012.  House GOP leaders have been clear the only committee leadership waiver that will be made this year is for former vice-presidential candidate and current House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Read more

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Study IDs consequences of funding cuts

October 26, 2012 by · Comments Off on Study IDs consequences of funding cuts
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Cutting funds for transportation without reforming the existing federal surface transportation program would create significant economic consequences, according to a study by the Bipartisan Policy Center.

In metropolitan regions especially, congestion would increase and transit service would decline. The impacts would reverberate nationally because the regions in question account for a substantial percentage of national economic activity and growth, the study said. Read more

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Gas tax running toward empty

September 19, 2012 by · Comments Off on Gas tax running toward empty
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Nearly everyone seems to agree that the federal and state consumption taxes on fuel are becoming obsolete, but solutions are not easy to come by.  The federal gas tax hasn’t been raised since 1993, and the state tax since 1997.  Meanwhile, improved fuel efficiency, hybrids, alternate fuel vehicles and inflation have sliced the tax revenue and its buying power considerably, and consumption taxes in general are at odds with federal energy policy.  Here’s a menu of options, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.  Click here to read the article.

 

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Transportation funding remains states’ problem

July 3, 2012 by · Comments Off on Transportation funding remains states’ problem
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We don’t like to rain on anyone’s parade, but we’re a little puzzled with the accolades flying around regarding Congress’ approval of a 27-month federal highway funding bill last week.

Granted, these days any measure that draws bipartisan support is probably noteworthy.  But to call it – as the Obama administration did – “a good, bipartisan bill that will create jobs, strengthen our transportation system and grow our economy” is an exaggeration.

Yes, a 27-month measure is better than yet another short-term extension, of which there had been nine since the expiration of the most recent multi-year funding bill.  The expired measure had been in place for six years – long enough to enable the highway construction industry to make longer-term plans and commitments, including investing in equipment and developing the work force.  Two years?  Not so much. Read more

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Washington drops transportation funding ball again

March 27, 2012 by · Comments Off on Washington drops transportation funding ball again
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Events in Washington the last two weeks provide further evidence of the need for states to take transportation funding needs into their own hands.

Last week, Republicans in the U.S. House succeeded in killing a Senate-passed $109 billion, two-year measure that would have supported nearly 3 million jobs.  The Senate bill passed by a 74-22 vote with bipartisan sponsorship and support.

Instead, House Republicans introduced legislation to continue funding at its current level for 90 days.  If such a measure were approved, it would make the ninth extension since the most recent multi-year federal funding bill expired more than two years ago. Read more

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Shuster to be Keynote Speaker at Annual Conference

March 8, 2012 by · Comments Off on Shuster to be Keynote Speaker at Annual Conference
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United States Congressman Bill Shuster will be the Keynote Speaker at PHIA’s Annual Transportation Conference, which is scheduled for April 3, 2012, at the Hilton Harrisburg.  Shuster is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  This subcommittee is one of the most important transportation subcommittees in the House due to its jurisdiction over everything involving rail transportation, from AMTRAK passenger to freight and cargo rail, employee contracts, and rail security.

At the conference, Shuster will discuss the status of the federal transportation reauthorization bill and his role as one of the chief negotiators of the House proposal. 

Shuster was first elected in 2001 and represents much of south-central Pennsylvania.  He resides in Hollidaysburg, Pa.

 

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Update: Congress formally approves 6-month extension

September 16, 2011 by · Comments Off on Update: Congress formally approves 6-month extension
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Source:  AASHTO Journal, Sept. 16, 2011

The United States Senate put its formal stamp of approval on extending the federal highway program for another six months.  PHIA reported earlier this week that Congressional leaders were close to making a deal to delay the reauthorization of the nation’s highway program until March 2012 rather than address the issue this fall.

That deal came to fruition late last night when the Senate voted 92-6 to send President Barack Obama a measure extending authorization at current funding levels for federal highway and transit programs until March 31.  Also part of the bill was an extension for federal aviation programs until Jan. 31.  The House of Representatives passed the bill by voice vote earlier in the week without any debate.  Read more

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Chaos in Washington: Another federal extension looming

September 13, 2011 by · Comments Off on Chaos in Washington: Another federal extension looming
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While many had hoped that Congress would enact a long-term federal transportation bill, it appears that the decision will be to kick the can down the road for yet another six months.

According to several news reports, the U.S. House and Senate this week are expected to act on legislation brokered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to extend the federal surface transportation programs for six months.  The House is scheduled to consider the measure as early as today.

The legislation would extend current levels of funding for Pennsylvania through the end of March 2012.  Most importantly, the deal is expected to extend the federal gas tax for the same six-month period.  Read more

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New federal trust fund forecast shows little change

September 7, 2011 by · Comments Off on New federal trust fund forecast shows little change
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Source:  ARTBA

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently released its summer forecast for the federal Highway Trust Fund showing little improvement in Highway Account revenues for the next surface transportation bill—$204.2 billion for FY 2012-17 compared to $201.6 billion in March. Projected Transit Account revenues for the six-year period were revised down $0.7 billion to $30.2 billion. The Highway Account projections include an increase in revenues from the expected growth in the sale of heavy truck equipment which is nearly offset by a decline in motor fuel tax revenues—a result of CBO’s projection of lower economic growth. Both accounts draw revenues from motor fuel sales, but the Mass Transit Account does not benefit from truck tax revenues resulting in the projected decline.

The forecast does not significantly change the outlook for the Highway Trust Fund balances, with the Highway Account balance still projected to hit zero in late 2012 or early 2013, followed by the Mass Transit Account later in 2013.