LaHood Urges Multiple ‘Pay-fors’ for Trump Infrastructure Plan

By Stephanie Beasley

A multitude of infrastructure options should be on the table as lawmakers begin to discuss President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to invest $1 trillion into the nation’s infrastructure, former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.

The next administration certainly should push Congress to consider raising federal fuel taxes, and also to vet proposals for an infrastructure bank to support public-private partnerships, vehicle-miles-traveled taxes and tolling, LaHood said Dec. 15 at a Washington event.

Trump has floated the idea of providing tax breaks to private investors in projects and creating an infrastructure bank. LaHood said that as many options as possible should be examined.

“Let’s have about five or six different opportunities,” he said. “The choices should be numerous. And now is the time to do it. If we’re going to have tax reform, this is where you get these kinds of things done.”

House Lawmakers Discussing Options

Some lawmakers have already announced plans to push some of those ideas in the next Congress. Rep. James B. Renacci (R-Ohio) recently told Bloomberg BNA that he would reintroduce legislation that would index the 18.4 cent-per-gallon gas tax to inflation. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) has expressed support for the vehicle-miles-traveled concept. Both are members of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.

LaHood said mayors across the nation are ready to move forward with infrastructure plans as soon as they get additional resources from the federal government, such as funding boosts to loan and grant programs like the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER). House Republicans have made several attempts to kill the TIGER program.

Mayor Nan Whaley (D) of Dayton, Ohio, said at the event that mid-size cities would especially benefit if Congress appropriated higher funding to the TIGER program. She said there are so few TIGER dollars available and the program is so competitive that cities like Dayton, which has a population of approximately 140,000, don’t stand a chance.

She agreed with LaHood that multiple options to fund infrastructure projects would be helpful.

“The stars are aligned correctly and if Congress doesn’t screw it up and if Trump continues to talk the way he does—big plan and a big pot of money—these mayors and governors are in for a bonanza,” LaHood said. “But more importantly, America gets to get back to being number one in infrastructure, and a lot of people go to work.”

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