INHOFE PRAISES AGREEMENT REACHED IN HIGHWAY BILL CONFERENCE

July 28, 2005 INHOFE PRAISES AGREEMENT REACHED IN HIGHWAY BILL CONFERENCE
SAFETEA-LU Significantly Improves the Nationís Transportation Infrastructure, Creates Jobs, Ensures Safety and Protects the Environment WASHINGTON, DC ñ Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today praised the agreement reached by Senate and House conferees on the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act ñ A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). The conference report will first be considered in the House of the Representatives, and then will move to the Senate for approval once passed. ìIím very pleased with the agreement we have reached with House conferees, and am optimistic that SAFETEA-LU will pass quickly in both chambers and proceed to the Presidentís desk,î Senator Inhofe said. ìAs much as this is legislation that will significantly boost and enhance our nationís transportation system, it is also a jobs bill that will create employment opportunities for millions of Americans. According to the Department of Transportation, every $1 billion of federal money invested in highway improvements creates more than 47,500 jobs. That $1 billion also yields $500 million in new orders for the manufacturing sector and $500 million spread throughout other sectors of the economy. A safe and effective transportation infrastructure will only help grow our economy, and Iím delighted weíre on the verge of delivering this important victory to Oklahomans and all Americans. ìThis bill is historic for Oklahoma. I am extremely proud of the increase in funding the state will receive from this legislation. Under the formulas, our bill includes about 32 percent more funding over the previous highway authorization bill. As Iíve often said, one of my top priorities as Chairman of the EPW Committee has been to increase the rate of return for donor states such as Oklahoma. This highway bill increases Oklahomaís formula rate of return to 92 cents per dollar in 2008.î The Senate version of the highway bill passed by an 89 to 11 vote in May. Senator Inhofe managed its consideration on the Senate floor. The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act ñ A Legacy for Users: Provides $244 billion in guaranteed spending over the 2005-2009 period ($286.4 billion including 2004) for maintenance, and improvement of the nationís roads, bridges, mass transit, and safety which creates millions of job opportunities across the country. Includes nearly $90 billion more funding over TEA-21 levels (current law). Provides a rate of return phased in to 92 percent by 2008 for donor states. Dedicates 2007 revenue-aligned budget authority (RABA) to increasing donor statesí rates of return up to 92 percent from 91.5 percent. Treats all states fairly, guaranteeing a minimum of a 19 percent growth rate over TEA-21 levels. Provides more than a 39 percent average annual increase over TEA-21 levels for Indian reservation roads and bridges, including new funding categories and increased flexibility, for which Oklahoma tribes are among the largest recipients. Consolidates existing safety programs into a new core Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) to provide increased funding and greater flexibility to states. The HSIP is designed to meet the growing safety needs and fatality and injury rates in each state through a strategic highway safety plan. Improves the Environmental Review Process for transportation projects. Authorizes the EPAís Clean School Bus Program. Increases the effectiveness of the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) improvement program. Provides funding for a variety of important projects in Oklahoma, including: -$220 million for improvements to Interstates 40 and 44; -$50 million to improve bridges in the State; and -$35 million to widen and make improvements to the Ports-to-Plains Corridor.