By Miles Moore, Senior Washington Reporter
WASHINGTON (March 31, 2015) — Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx has sent the Obama administration's six-year, $478 billion highway funding reauthorization package to Congress.
Mr. Foxx unveiled the Generating Renewal, Opportunity, and Work with Accelerated Mobility, Efficiency, and Rebuilding Infrastructure and Communities throughout America (GROW AMERICA) Act March 30.
According to DOT, the GROW AMERICA Act will provide increased and stable funding for American highway, bridge, transit and rail projects.
The bill will supplement current revenues from the Highway Trust Fund with a 14-percent transition tax on the estimated $2 trillion of untaxed foreign earnings accumulated by U.S. corporations.
This funding mechanism is similar to that advanced by Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., except that the transition tax proposed by Mr. Delaney is 8.75 percent. The Tire Industry Association (TIA) has declared its support for the Delaney proposal, and invited Mr. Delaney to speak at the TIA Federal Lobby Day on Capitol Hill Feb. 5.
“The GROW AMERICA Act will provide states and local governments with the certainty needed to effectively plan and start construction on projects that will support millions of good-paying jobs over the next several years,” DOT said in its fact sheet on the legislation.
The legislation would provide $317 billion for highways and bridges, $115 billion for mass transit and the remainder of the funds for regional coordination, local decision making and better methods to warn the public of vehicle and tire defects.
“It (the GROW AMERICA Act) will improve vehicle and tire recall efforts by taking steps to ensure the public is informed of recalls at franchise dealerships, independent tire stores and state departments of motor vehicles,” DOT said. “The act also provides consumers more time to get tire defects fixed for free.”
Sixty-five percent of America's major roads are rated in less than good condition, while 25 percent of bridges urgently need repair and 45 percent of Americans have no access to mass transit, according to DOT.
“These programs will help communities keep pace with our expanding economy, our growing population and the traveling needs of the public,” the agency said.
The current $10.8 billion stopgap transportation funding law ends May 31.
The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) recently proposed a solution to bogged down federal highway funding.
The ARTBA said a 15-cent increase in the federal and gasoline diesel fuel tax, tied to a 100-percent offsetting tax rebate for middle- and working-class families, could fund state highway, bridge and transit projects for the next 10 years.
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