Washington Won’t Save Us

Chris Runyan OCA President

Chris Runyan
OCA President

Ohio Contractors Association President Chris Runyan comments on the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act” (FAST Act)

On Dec. 3, 2015, the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly approved legislation – the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act” (FAST Act) – that reauthorized funding for the federal surface transportation programs through FY 2020. President Obama signed the bill into law the next day. Enactment of this legislation follows years of hard advocacy work by OCA and its members, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and countless other organizations and individuals from across the country who understand that transportation is the backbone of this nation’s economic and social prosperity.  Everyone in the transportation construction industry across America is deeply indebted to those that have consistently promoted passage of a long-term transportation bill over many years and many Congressional visits and discussions.

Under the FAST Act, Ohio will receive $7.1 billion in federal funding over the next five years to invest in its highway improvement program. In FY 2015, Ohio received nearly $1.29 billion in federal funds. The federal highway apportionments to Ohio will increase, growing from $1.36 billion in FY 2016 to $1.48 billion in FY 2020.

Disappointingly, the FAST Act fails to address the major challenge facing the federal highway and public transportation program – the Highway Trust Fund’s (HTF’s) permanent structural revenue deficit. Instead of enacting a long-term funding plan to provide states and the private sector with certainty about highway and transit investment post-FY 2020, President Obama and the members of Congress defaulted to the path of least resistance by providing a large, one-time transfer of General Fund resources, produced largely by accounting chicanery, to the HTF.

As a result, certainty provided by the FAST Act will be short-lived. Absent remedial congressional action, another revenue shortfall will impact Ohio’s state construction program as early as 2019 when the federal funding cycle begins to wane and the Ohio Turnpike bonding program has been tapped out. A permanent solution for the trust fund remains the key focus of transportation funding efforts moving forward.

Read the complete text of Mr. Runyan’s article here.

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