WASHINGTON – At a Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) hearing on transportation infrastructure today, U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) highlighted the importance of maintaining the current infrastructure project funding formula – which ensures small population states with expansive road systems receive sufficient resources – in any future infrastructure reform package. Senator Cramer praised the work of North Dakota Department of Transportation Director Bill Panos and highlighted his strong support for the formula.
“I think every state has some part of it that’s rural, but North Dakota is very rural ... It is so important for the entire system to maintain this formula,” Senator Cramer emphasized.
Senator Cramer asked panelist Victoria Sheehan, Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation and President of The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), to elaborate on why the formula should remain intact. Commissioner Sheehan responded by highlighting the predictability the formula provides. In an op-ed this week calling for bipartisan infrastructure reform, Senator Cramer urged Congress to keep this formula in any future highway bill.
Senator Cramer then questioned the hearing’s panelists about properly funding future transportation infrastructure efforts. He highlighted the impending conflict of using the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) – a user fee system funded by gas taxes – to pay for the rapid investment in electric vehicle infrastructure, given that owners of such cars do not pay into the road system they use. Senator Cramer believes creating a modernized, stable funding source will require a holistic funding approach. He noted in his op-ed that the system “needs to be modernized, but increased funding should not be achieved solely on the backs of middle-class Americans.”
“Obviously a lot of the conversation that takes place here deals with the funding, and there’s never enough to do all the things we should do,”Senator Cramer noted. “However, the other thing AASHTO has advocated for is a sustainable funding source.”
In response, Commissioner Sheehan and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer deflected, merely noting funding would be a challenge for Congress and a long-term answer should be developed.