MAP-21: Blueprint for New Transportation Bill?
- Published: Thursday, 02 June 2011 10:05
- Written by Mark Kuhar
June 2, 2011 – On May 25, Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) unveiled plans for a $56 billion per year surface-transportation reauthorization bill. The outline, known as Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), reportedly has the support of Boxer, EPW Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Highways & Transit Subcommittee and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mt.), and Ranking Member David Vitter (R-La.) While specific legislative language has not been drafted, the plan calls for spending about the same amount per year as authorized by the last highway bill (SAFETEA-LU). The issue of how to pay for the new bill is left unresolved in the proposal, which is unfortunately, too often the case with ideas in progress. The central piece of the new bill, according to the Association of Equipment Distributors, will be a dramatic expansion of the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program, which provides federal credit assistance to finance surface transportation projects of national and regional significance. TIFIA funding would increase to $1 billion per year from the current level of $110 million per year. According to Boxer, an expanded TIFIA program will result in $30 billion of private capital for transportation projects. The duration of the authorization is also undefined. Boxer has indicated that she desires a six-year bill, but it will be easier to make up for the deficit in Highway Trust Fund revenues in a shorter bill. Under the plan, a two-year bill would require Congress to find about $12 billion in additional revenues to make up for the shortfall in user fees, compared to $70 billion for a six-year bill.