May 2017 News & JFI Update 5/31/2017
Just Fix It Update 

Turnout for Transportation: Capitol Edition Draws a Crowd

Hundreds of frustrated citizens, business leaders and local officials descended on the Capitol May 10th to urge lawmakers to pass a long-term funding solution that improves Wisconsin’s transportation system.

“Wisconsin’s roads are ranked 49th in the nation, we bond too much, build too little and real people are growing real frustrated,” said Craig Thompson, executive director of the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin (TDA), which hosted the Turnout for Transportation Capitol Edition.  “Wisconsinites are practically begging for leadership and vision from our policymakers.”  read more

Check out the recap video of the event and the facts shared during legislative visits.

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The Wheels on the Bus...

Wisconsin’s transportation funding challenge affects more than just the condition of the state’s roads and overall transportation system. 

The latest TDA factsheet and the video below highlight the impact of poor roads on one school district.

Craig Thompson: Tommy provided a roadmap for Wisconsin
La Crosse Tribune
May 28, 2017

There is a noteworthy project going on right now to celebrate and, more importantly, learn from the 14-year term of Gov. Tommy G. Thompson. The project called Tommy@30 includes an academic conference that was held on May 23 in Madison, a gala on September 18 in Milwaukee and a 90-minute documentary.

There is, of course, a lot of nostalgia and walks down memory lane that are a part of this effort, but there is also a tremendous amount of learning that can come from studying the term of the longest-serving governor in Wisconsin’s history. Thirty years after Gov. Thompson was first elected seems like an appropriate amount of time to be able to assess the effects of some of his signature policies. The academic portion of this effort should not be undersold.

As a person who advocates for sound transportation planning and policy, I was excited to hear about this project. Providing a transportation vision for Wisconsin was certainly one of the hallmarks of the Thompson administration. read more
News from around the Nation

2018 Trump Budget and Infrastructure Plan

The Trump administration recently laid out its long-awaited vision for a $1 trillion infrastructure plan.

As expected, the plan targets $200 billion in direct federal spending over the next ten years on infrastructure needs such as roads, bridges, tunnels, railroads and expanded broadband.  According to the administration, the $200 billion along with incentivized non-federal funding will result in $1 trillion of infrastructure spending. 

The rest of the 6-page factsheet, which is all that is known of the plan at this point, puts forward the administration’s key principles, ideas for streamlining the environmental review and permitting process and illustrative funding examples and other tools.

Of special interest to Wisconsin as state elected officials debate how to fund transportation are the key principles of encouraging self-help – or said another way, helping states that help themselves – and leveraging the private sector. Related to both ideas is the administration’s support for allowing states to evaluate their needs and weigh the merits of interstate tolling. 

2018 Budget

Consistent with a budget blueprint put forward in March, the administration’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal, released by the White House on May 23rd would cut USDOT discretionary spending by 13%.

The proposal would eliminate TIGER Grants, limit funding for new transit projects and end funding for Amtrak’s long-distance passenger trains outside the Northeast Corridor.

The Trump budget would also privatize air traffic control and end Essential Air Service subsidies that support commercial air service in smaller, more rural communities.

For the main highway and transit programs, the budget would hold to levels Congress authorized with the 2015 Fixing American's Surface Transportation Act, $44.234 billion in obligation authority for the highway program and $9.733 billion for transit formula grants.

However, after 2018, funding would be capped at the 2018 level instead of providing the modest annual increases the FAST Act authorized.

Beyond 2020 and the expiration of the FAST Act, the president's budget assumes that HTF outlays will be limited to trust fund receipts. This would result in an estimated 40 percent cut in obligation authority for the federal-aid highway program in 2021, and zeroing out transit formula grants through 2023.

Lawmakers from both parties in Congress have pronounced the president's budget "dead on arrival." This indicates they are likely to ignore it as they write their own funding measures.

South Carolina Fifth State to Raise Gas Tax this Year

A bill to raise South Carolina’s gas tax became law when the Republican-led legislature overrode the veto of Governor Henry McMaster, a fellow Republican. South Carolina is the fifth state to increase taxes on motor fuel to support needed transportation investment in 2017, and the 22nd state since 2013.

The measure is expected to raise $640 million annually and includes: 
  • Gradually increasing the state’s fuel tax by 2 cents-per-gallon annually over the next six years, beginning July 1 (12 cents-per-gallon total, resulting in a state gas tax rate of 28 cents-per-gallon);
  • Instituting a $120 fee for vehicles powered by anything other than motor fuel and $60 fee for hybrid vehicles;
  • Increasing biennial registration fees for passenger motor vehicles by $16;
  • Creating an “Infrastructure Maintenance Fee”, charged on the purchase of motor vehicles and capped at $500 (replacing the current $300 sales tax on motor vehicles);
  • Instituting a $250 one-time fee for motor vehicles transferred from another state; and
  • Charging out-of-state commercial truckers a fee based on miles driven annually within the state.
“Today’s bipartisan vote by the Senate to override the governor’s veto ensures that our state will have dedicated resources in place to maintain our roads,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence.

Association News
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