September 10, 2008

Senate Passes Highway Fund Fix

Idaho faced losing more than $80 million without today's vote

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, a member of the Senate Finance and Banking Committees who has worked to improve Idaho's share of highway funding, noted the Senate tonight passed a measure to keep the Federal Highway Trust Fund solvent. The fund was being depleted, a move which could have stopped projects in Idaho and other states.

The Senate passed H.R. 6532 by voice vote. The measure authorizes an $8 billion transfer of funds from the General Fund to the Highway Trust Fund to repay a transfer from the Highway Trust Fund to the General Fund in 1998.

"Today, the Senate averted a major transportation funding disaster that Idaho could not have afforded," Crapo said. "Without this fix the federal government would have delayed and stopped vital transportation infrastructure projects in Idaho. At one point Idaho was on track to lose $80 million in federal funds for Fiscal Year 2009.

Crapo had discussed the provisions of the legislation last month during a transportation summit he co-hosted with Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter. "Fuel tax receipts, the primary source of revenue for the highway program, have been significantly lower than expected," he noted. "The reduced receipts have caused the balance to decline by nearly $4 billion during June, July and August.

"Just as we are doing in Idaho, the nation needs to have a comprehensive debate about how we intend to improve our transportation system and how we intend to pay for it," Crapo added. "I will do all I can to ensure that federal legislation continues to distribute highway funds in a way that recognizes that there is an important national interest in transportation investment in and across rural states, not just in more heavily populated areas. Idaho receives a share of highway formula dollars that equals approximately $1.40 for each dollar that Idaho taxpayers pay into those accounts."

Crapo's tenure in the Senate has seen him serve on all three committees with jurisdiction over transportation funding issues-Environment and Public Works, Banking; and Finance, which oversees the transfer of funding contemplated by today's legislation. While a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Crapo successfully fought to increase the ratio of payments to rural states like Idaho.

The legislation now goes to the U.S. House of Representatives, where it is expected to be approved and then signed into law by the President.