Recapping the congressional mess called the Highway Trust Fund is painful. The funding was due to expire earlier this year (near the end of May), but extensions kicked the issue down the road to July 31, October 29, and then November 20. With another deadline looming, an extension was passed until December 4, allowing the House and the Senate to reconcile a long-term (6 year) highway bill under the direction of newly appointed U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan. President Obama signed this latest patch using an autopen, a controversial technology that reproduces the president’s signature.
If you’re up in age, like me, you probably played Kick The Can as a kid. Today, should you happen to rekindle your childhood game with the grandkids and kick the aluminum soup can, tragedy could follow. How? The can could fall into a pothole and descend into the nether regions of inner earth. Why? Entropy—meaning that without proper maintenance and care, matter deteriorates and becomes chaos.
That’s what we’re dealing with on Capitol Hill—chaos. What happened to the Will of the People? Why have we allowed career politicians and overpaid lobbyists to dictate funding to non-priority issues when our nation’s infrastructure is failing? Even Vladamir Putin (shirtless) dedicated funds over the past several years for Russia’s roads, ports, airports, and rail.
We, the People, need to take back our roads. As a work truck professional, you know firsthand the potholes, the deteriorated Interstate shoulders, and the crumbling portions of the highway in freeze/thaw regions. Bad roads add wear and tear to your tires and chassis, hitting your bottom line when it comes to maintenance and repair.
Our elected officials can’t seem to agree on what measures to take to get the infrastructure projects funded. Over the past two years, you may have heard the squabble over increasing the gas tax, the ability of the States to add more toll roads, and moving excess funds from redundant government programs into the transportation bill. According to Congress, it has not passed a transportation funding bill lasting longer than two years since 2005. Sad.
While both chambers have passed highway bills with three years of funding, getting a long-term, six-year bill will take work and time. According to the Congressional Budget Office, it will take an estimated $100 billion, in addition to the annual gas tax revenue, to pay for a six-year transportation funding bill.
Only $100 billion? Didn’t ONE of the Obama vacation trips cost a tad more? When a household has a set budget, the family learns to live within its means. The same principle should apply to all budgets. With respect to our government purse: no more wasted spending domestically or abroad.
ALL ROADS MATTER
It’s time to inform the populace that “All Roads Matter.” The taxes we pay fund several programs, some of which could be eliminated or reduced. It’s nonsense to think we need to pay more in taxes or user fees when all the government truly needs is an honest accountant. With all the hype regarding the autopen, let’s take that energy and put it to good use with common sense budgeting.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Donna Campbell is editor in chief of Modern WorkTruck Solutions and Modern Contractor Solutions. This monthly column will feature commentary on trending issues for work truck and transportation matters.