Election-Year Gimmick Could Jeopardize Infrastructure
My Perspective
by TDA Executive Director Debby Jackson

A few weeks ago, a group of U.S. Senate Democrats, four of whom are up for reelection, proposed a federal gas tax holiday through the end of 2022. One of the bill’s authors said it will help people “struggling with high costs for everything from gas to groceries.”

However, there are many issues with this premise. Here are just a few:

  • Suspending the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon — unchanged since 1993 — would at best pay for one Culver’s Cheddar ButterBurger with Bacon basket a month. Meanwhile, Moody's Analytics estimates inflation is costing the average household $276 monthly.
  • We would be lucky for a federal gas holiday to pay for a serving of fries each month. A Transportation Investment Advocacy Center study found that, on average, one-third of a state gas tax change (increase or decrease) is passed on to consumers in the retail price of gas on the day the change takes effect, with the impact at the pump diminishing quickly. The bill mandates “consumers immediately receive the benefit of the reduction in taxes,” but this requirement is likely to be unenforceable.  
  • A federal gas tax moratorium for the rest of the year is estimated to put a $20 billion hole in the funding for the recently passed federal infrastructure law. Sure, the bill includes an additional bailout from the General Fund, but do we want to undermine the user fee system and put more money on the federal credit card?
  • I have yet to find an expert who thinks this measure is a solution to rising gas prices or would significantly reduce inflation. What's more, some believe it could add to inflationary pressures.

As Marc Goldwein, the senior director of policy at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, summed it up, “Whether you care about the deficit, whether you care about infrastructure, whether you care about climate, or whether you care about getting inflation truly under control, this moves in the wrong direction.”

Inflation is a genuine concern for the average family, but this proposal has no upside. And some real-world pitfalls.

Dave Bauer, president and CEO of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, gets to the heart of the issue.

“The best way to save the American people money is to make new infrastructure improvements that will reduce the lost time and wasted fuel that comes from being stuck in traffic, and improve road conditions to prevent the next pothole-induced flat tire,” Bauer shared in an editorial for The Hill.

The proposed federal gas tax holiday has run into skepticism from Senate Republicans and some Senate Democrats, as it should. The idea of a gas tax holiday has been trotted out in the past. Once again, we need to tell Congress it is a bad idea.
Federal Infrastructure News
Congress Passes Funding Extension
Congress passed a three-week stopgap continuing resolution (CR) to avert a shutdown of the federal government. The CR funds existing programs at prorated fiscal 2021 enacted rates through March 11. The federal fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

Without full-year appropriations, states, local governments, and public transit agencies will not benefit from the formula program increases included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and some new IIJA transportation initiatives. The federal infrastructure law increases funding for highway formula programs by about 20 percent and public transit by 30-plus percent, meaning billions of dollars are sitting on the sidelines.
Biden Administration Releases BIL Guidebook
What is billed as the “first edition" of a guidebook developed to help state, local, tribal, and territorial governments “unlock the benefits” from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also called the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL),
has been released by the Biden administration.

The administration also issued a fact sheet that outlines the steps cities, towns, and municipalities can take to access competitive grant funds within the BIL. Future phases of the guidebook are planned and will update key timelines for program implementation, showcase best practices, and include examples of successful grant applications.
DOT & Energy Release Rules for Electric Vehicle Charging Program
The U.S. Departments of Transportation and Energy released initial guidance and rules for the Infrastructure Investment and Job Act’s (IIJA) $5 billion ($4.2 billion after pre-apportionment set-asides) in formula funding to be distributed to states for construction of electric vehicle (EV) charging networks.

The IIJA took $300 million off the top of the program’s first-year appropriation to establish a Joint Office of DOT & Energy. The Joint Office is “tasked with helping to formulate National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program guidance, best practices, and to provide vision, technical, and other assistance to states and localities in the planning and implementation of a national EV charging network, while also supporting additional transportation electrification efforts in the Federal government.” The new Joint Office’s website is now available at

The next steps for the NEVI Formula Program include:
  • May 13 – FWHA publishes proposed regulations for minimum standards and requirements for the NEVI Formula Program.
  • Aug. 1 – State DOTs submit their proposed EV infrastructure deployment plan to the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation.
  • Sept. 30 – FHWA notifies each state if its plan is approved for implementation and obligation of funds.

Wisconsin will receive $11.6 million in NEVI Formula Program funds in FY 2022.
$1 Billion Airport Terminal Funding Available
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently issued guidance for the new Airport Terminal Program (ATP). ATP is a $5 billion discretionary grant program — $1 billion per year for five years — created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

ATP grants will “improve airfield safety through terminal relocation, replace aging facilities, increase capacity, encourage competition, improve energy efficiency (including LEED accreditation standards) and increase or improve access to passengers with disabilities and historically disadvantaged populations.”

Large hub airports will receive up to 55 percent of the total funding, medium hub airports up to 15 percent, and small hub airports up to 20 percent. A minimum of 10 percent will go to non-hub and non-primary airports.

Applications must be submitted by March 28, with selected projects announced in July.

In addition, FAA published a new FAQs document. These frequently asked questions (FAQS) pertain to the roughly $20 billion for airport infrastructure improvements administered by the FAA's Office of Airports, including the $5 billion for ATP.
Other Transportation News
GAO Issues Report on Road User Charges
A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommends that the Federal Highway Administration develop scalability criteria for state pilot programs of user-based funding alternatives to the fuel tax. Without such measures, FHWA "will not be able to assess the potential of mileage fee systems beyond the pilot states."

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act authorizes the U.S. Department of Transportation to create a national vehicle-miles-traveled pilot program. This national pilot is significant as the GAO has had Highway Trust Fund (HTF) insolvency on its "high-risk list" for over a decade. Existing HTF sources—specifically fuel taxes—have not been increased in decades, resulting in over $270 billion in general fund revenues transferred to the HTF between 2008 and 2021.
Association News
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Member News

KL Engineering is pleased to announce that Ryan Schanhofer, PE (pictured) has been promoted to president and will lead firm development moving forward. As CEO, Kim Lobdell will continue responsibility for firm management, leadership initiatives, and strategic development. Scott Cramer will continue as COO, leading alongside Ryan.
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  • TDA 2022 Annual Meeting: Tuesday, Nov. 15 at the Madison Marriott West