Skip to comments.Tolls, private financing obstacles to Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure plan
Posted on 06/12/2017 8:16:35 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
WASHINGTON President Donald Trumps grand plan to spend $1 trillion over the next 10 years on highways and other infrastructure improvements faces a formidable roadblock in Congress and state legislatures.
Theres agreement the investment is badly needed to improve the nations sagging infrastructure but how to cover the huge expense is the point of tension.
Trump would use $200 billion in public funds to generate $800 billion in private money under a partnership program that would finance government bonds and also return a profit to private companies through interstate tolls and other user fees.
To do that, Congress would need to lift the restriction on interstate highway tolls, and state legislatures would have to authorize tolling within their borders.
That means tapping the pocketbooks of motorists, who already bristle over traditional federal and state gas taxes that pay for construction and maintenance of the nations highways.
Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, leader of the minority Democrats in the U.S. Senate, mocked the idea as Trump tolls at a press conference when the president campaigned for his plan in Cincinnati, Ohio, Wednesday during what the administration called infrastructure week.
Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio took issue with Trumps public-private partnership funding idea, saying the $200 billion public portion is a far cry from the $1 trillion federal investment the president promised voters in last years election campaign.
Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., worried that private companies would only go for projects in populated areas where they could be assured of a profit. Leahy said Trumps public-private plan would be devastating to rural areas.
Democrats in Congress want the federal government to pick up the entire infrastructure improvement cost. Even some Republicans are wary of outsourcing the financing to private companies that would manage them and collect revenues from tolls and user fees for their return on investment. The fear is if revenues dont match anticipated income, then the private company might pull out or close down a project.
Pat Jones, executive director of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association, has no objection to tolls as a method of financing infrastructure improvements. He said they can help states with budget deficits build and maintain public works.
Joung Lee, policy director for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, agreed, saying gas taxes havent kept up with highway improvement costs, which are expected to rise even further in the future as motorists drive more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Trump wants to create a first-class system of roads and bridges with public-private financing in order to increase federal spending on national security and put the nation on the path to a balanced budget by the next decade.
And while he hasnt submitted the nitty-gritty details of his infrastructure financing plan, the White House budget office has said it will likely include tax breaks to private companies as well as outsourcing and allowing tolls on the interstate highway system.
The interstate highway system covers 46,730 miles, including 2,900 miles of state turnpikes that now impose tolls. They were exempted from the no-tolls federal rule because they were existing tollways folded into the interstate system when it was created in the 1950s and 1960s.
Missouri was one of three states allowed to toll portions of its interstate highways under a pilot project approved by President Barack Obama. But in March, the state lawmakers approved legislation prohibiting the project from going forward
Republican Rep. Bryan Spencer, sponsor of the measure, said in an interview toll roads often are not well maintained, and drivers should not be required to finance improvements with tolls as well as gas taxes.
It is kind of like double taxation, said Spencer. Theyve already paid for the road.
“It is kind of like double taxation, said Spencer. Theyve already paid for the road.
Lol! I’d love to only be double taxed on just about anything.
And we haven’t paid for the last union bailout,i mean stimulus. A trillion dollars? More swamp mentality.
I’d rather see private entities run our transportation infrastructure. Then at least the employees they had wouldn’t be a lifetime obligation for us all. Government “agencies” primary reason for being is to provide jobs for people who don’t really want to work.
And as far as paying tolls or paying taxes, you do have to have money to build and maintain, so either way the “user/taxpayer” pays. But in the case of tolling, only the user pays, which is a whole lot fairer way to approach the financing problem.
“Id rather see private entities run our transportation infrastructure. Then at least the employees they had wouldnt be a lifetime obligation for us all.”
Actually the vast majority of employees involved with road work are contractors, at least in Texas.
“And as far as paying tolls or paying taxes, you do have to have money to build and maintain, so either way the user/taxpayer pays. But in the case of tolling, only the user pays, which is a whole lot fairer way to approach the financing problem.”
I guess it depends on the definition of the word “fair”. In Houston, they now divert money from our toll roads to the city of Houston - they simply collect way more than they’re able to spend on the mostly-built system. In Pennsylvania, the feds let them put in a proposal to toll the now-free Interstate 80. The only catch was that any money collected in tolls could only be used for the highway. The state responded with a plan to collect tolls at ‘market rates’, which meant huge amounts of money - and then send that money to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh for their mass transit systems. The feds, under Obama (believe it or not) REJECTED the application since most of the toll revenue would have been diverted, contrary to the law’s requirements. Pennsylvania was invited to re-submit, but didn’t bother, since the tolling rate for simply maintaining I-80 would have been so low as not to be worth it (and it would have made their really, really, expensive Turnpike have some explaining to do).
In both of the above cases, the “users” would have been the only ones paying for the highway, but they would have been paying (and are paying, in Houston), for a lot more than just ‘the highway’. That doesn’t meet my definition of fair...to say the least.
Sherrod Brown says the 200 billion is a far cry from the trillion Trump promised. So the 800 billion private investment doesn’t count for democrats, because they won’t be able to raise taxes, give their pet projects to their cronies, and using union labor.
I'm sorry, Mr. Motorist.
That money is being used for bicycle lanes, bullet trains, and scenic hiking trails.
No tolls. No selling out America’s infrastructure to foreign entities for decades. Still super pissed that Rick Perry allowed a bill to pass to toll 17 existing highways in Texas that no one talks about. The damage to the businesses along those routes and to the people who have no choice but to drive on those roads will be extensive. No justification to toll interstate 35 which is in the plans. Private-public partnership is just another euphemism from the 90’s to get us used to German style socialism or fascism. Screw all that.
Here in California, Brown and his RAT clowns, just added 12 cents to the 58.3 cents we already pay. There will be an initiative to repeal this bill on the ballot in November, because people are finally pissed off enough. Basically the RATs here have spent the gas tax money on just about everything but fixing the infrastructure ( Bike lanes, Mass transit and free rides on it for commuters, environmental studies that triple the cost of the projects that they do do). And I imagine a lot of the money goes for “welfare for illegals.” Plus we have our own in-state produced “environmentally friendly gasoline that adds cost because out of state refiners don’t want to make it. On the brighter side, our cars last forever because of our mild climate.
agreed - full privatization of nearly all infrastructure. no BS concessions or public-private partnerships. Sell the assets lock,stock, and barrel. Use the money to pay off gov’t debt.
Let the free market work its magic. You’ll get lower prices & better quality
“Sell the assets lock,stock, and barrel. Use the money to pay off govt debt.”
With all the “Federal Lands” in the Western States, there is a one time chance to expunge our debt. For all these years, the Fed Gov has “held onto the dowry that those states had to pay to achieve statehood,and it was a disgrace in the first plact to require it at all. There are single digit percentages of “federal land” in the original states, then you have Nevada where the Feds own more than 85% of it, and California where that number is north of 50%. Then they set up these a$$holes with guns called the Bureau of Land “Management” to use those weapons to keep the citizens of those states “off their land.” And don’t get me started about their “agents” allowing their guns to be stolen out of their cars resulting in deaths like that of Kate Steinle in San Francisco. And you will notice that there has never been any exposure of the “agent” whose gun was used in this murder. A complete coverup. (Sorry, the Steinle family lives about ten miles south of us)
if the tree huggers want these lands ‘protected’. Let them raise the money themselves and buy them in a fair public auction .
use the funds raised to pay down federal debt.
One of the biggest reasons why these are bad investments is that every inch of roadway comes with a potentially enormous financial liability in motor vehicle crashes. This is not a small consideration in a country where 40,000 people lose their lives in these incidents every year, and several times that number are seriously injured. This risk is multiplied even further when you consider that the highway operator has no control over who uses the road. At a time when the average car on the road today is 12 years old, and when state governments are falling all over themselves to hand out driver's licenses to illegal aliens who don't even belong in the country, you have to ask yourself who would ever be dumb enough to accept the risk of serving this kind of "customer base."
I don’t say hate, almost never say it.
But I do hate tollways. People from out of town without the EZ Pass end up burning through rolls of quarters. Spend a week driving around Chicago, paying for downtown parking and tolls. Madness.
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