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Grow America Act a Good Start

If the Foxx is guarding the henhouse, in this case it isn’t a bad thing.

At press time, Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx unveiled the Obama administration’s Grow America Act, a $302 billion, four-year surface transportation reauthorization.

The Grow America Act is based on the plan announced in February by President Obama to address the nation’s infrastructure deficit. Foxx said, “Failing to act before the Highway Trust Fund runs out is unacceptable – and unaffordable. This proposal offers the kind of job creation and certainty that the American people want and deserve. I have been pleased to see that members of both parties are already working together to solve these challenges, and I look forward to continuing our discussion and to supporting and building on the good work that’s already there.”

According to DOT, the proposed surface transportation reauthorization bill will provide $87 billion to address the Highway Trust Fund shortfall and increase safety and efficiency. Also, the bill will provide greater access to ladders of opportunity for all Americans without adding to the deficit, by relying on the president’s proposed pro-growth business tax reforms.

Additionally, DOT agrees with the construction industry that the bill will create millions of new jobs to ensure America’s competitiveness; increase safety across all modes of surface transportation; provide certainty to state and local governments that must engage in long-term planning; reduce the permitting and environmental review processes; bolster efficient and reliable freight networks to support trade and economic growth; and create incentives to better align planning and investment decisions to comprehensively address regional economic needs while strengthening local decision-making.

NSSGA President and CEO Mike Johnson commended Foxx and the administration for coming forward with a multi-year reauthorization bill. Johnson said, “Funding to stabilize and provide future solvency to the Highway Trust Fund is essential. The provisions intended to further expedite permitting of projects and environmental reviews will also assist in moving forward many needed projects. However, we are somewhat concerned that the administration is relying on business tax reform to fund the bill. While we support tax reform, it seems unlikely that Congress will be able to pass major tax legislation before the end of the year.”

I like the four-year bill. I would like it better if it were a six-year bill. I also agree with Mike Johnson. Tying the bill to tax reform could be a slippery slope. And as we get closer and closer to the end of the year, we cannot afford to fall on our face.

Mark S. Kuhar, editor
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Member: Construction Writers Association