WASHINGTON (Nov. 19, 2015) — The National Governors Association (NGA) is urging Congress to leave short-term patches behind and approve a conference bill that will allow for long-term funding of highway, bridge and other transportation projects.
“As both chambers begin to negotiate a final package, we write to urge conferees to adopt a conference report that provides for the longest term at the highest funding level possible,” said the Nov. 17 letter signed by Govs. Larry Hogan, R-Md., and Earl Ray Tomblin, D-W. Va.
The letter was sent to the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works and the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure.
Messrs. Hogan and Tomblin are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the NGA's Economic Development and Commerce Committee.
“We stand ready to help push this effort over the finish line because enacting a comprehensive bill would provide the federal policy and funding predictability states require to support our nation's multimodal surface transportation and infrastructure systems,” Messrs. Hogan and Tomblin wrote.
An ideal surface transportation reauthorization bill, they said, would contain:
- Funding certainty to allow states to pursue long-term highway and public transportation projects;
- Creation of revenue mechanisms to help maintain the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund;
- Provisions for states with sufficient decision-making discretion to help advance a national surface transportation system; and
- Provisions for streamlining project delivery, reducing approval and completion times, and increasing transparency.
On Nov. 16, the House approved by voice vote a short-term, stopgap bill funding highway projects until Dec. 4, to buy time to complete the conference report.
This marks the 36th consecutive transportation funding “patch.” As of Nov. 19, the Senate was expected to vote on the patch by Nov. 20, the day the current stopgap bill ends.