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Rural America Needs Highway Funding Too

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Highway funding issue

I65 IndianaA stop-gap highway bill may be on the road to congressional approval this week as lawmakers try to avert depletion next month of the Highway trust Fund. The Highway Trust Fund is about to run dry. More fuel-efficient vehicles and fewer miles driven have rendered the gas tax a poor way to fund roads and bridges. But lawmakers can’t yet agree on a permanent solution.

The House last week easily passed an 11-billion dollar stop-gap through next May – and American Farm Bureau’s Pat Wolff says the Senate will consider three bills this week, the House bill, one similar to it, “and the third alternative would fund highways through the end of the calendar year. There’s a little bit of a strategy going on here. Some people say it’s not right just to kick the can down the road and do another short term fix. We need to figure out a permanent solution for our highway funding needs.”

Thus a shorter stop-gap to force Congress to deal with the issue right after the November election. But Wolff says Farm Bureau just wants to get past the August problem.

“Farm Bureau would like to see a long term fix. Unfortunately we’re put in a corner where we need to get something passed and get something passed in the next week or two or money for highways is going to stop.”

And that’s not good for agriculture and rural America.

“Highways and bridges are so important for farmers and ranchers and other people who live in rural America. It’s the way that farmers get their crops to market. It’s the way that they get the inputs that they need to run their businesses, and it’s the way that all rural citizens get their supplies, their food, their gasoline. It all comes over highways.”

Wolff says AFBF wants a long-term fix for highway funding. She says a gas tax hike seems to be off the table, so it’s likely Congress will have to look at other answers. Some of the suggestions are a mileage tax and more tolls.

Source: NAFB News Service