"These cuts are dire," Senator Inhofe said. "In my state of Oklahoma, this would translate into a cut in federal funding of over $172 million. This would result in a loss of over 6,000 jobs in Oklahoma, and 485,000 nationally. It is absolutely critical that we fix this looming shortfall. Our infrastructure needs are far too great to risk such a large cut. It is essential that we solve this problem as soon as possible. I fully support the Finance Committee's proposal to address the problem by returning money taken from the Highway Trust Fund."
In the years following passage of the multi-year transportation bill, Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, also known as SAFETEA-LU, high gas prices and a weaker economy have had a strong negative impact on gas tax receipts. As a result there will not be sufficient resources in the Highway Trust Fund to fund the program at the SAFETEA-LU guaranteed level in 2009. Without a fix, the highway program would have to be cut by about $14 billion, or 34%, in order to prevent running out of money.
Full Text of Letter: Click here for PDF version with signatures:
Dear Senators Reid, McConnell, Baucus, and Grassley,
One of the lesser recognized effects of the recent economic downturn and rising energy prices has been a slowdown in projected revenues into the federal Highway Trust Fund. As a result, states are now facing the possibility of a $14 billion, or 34 percent, cut in federal highway funding in FY 2009. We believe there are a variety of ways to avert the pending crisis and urge you to work with us to resolve this as soon as possible.
The federal highway program provides almost 45 percent of the annual capital investment in U.S. highway and bridge improvements. A reduction in highway investment of the magnitude currently projected would have far-ranging consequences. According to newly released data from the Federal Highway Administration, the pending revenue shortfall in FY 2009, if left unaddressed, would cost over 485,000 American jobs. Furthermore, ongoing efforts to reduce traffic congestion, improve safety and enhance long-term economic productivity would be severely disrupted by a large cut in highway investment.
We urge you to support fixing this looming crisis this fiscal year.
Thank you for your ongoing leadership and we look forward to working with you to preserve critical investment in our nation's highway infrastructure.
Link to EPW Committee Hearing on "Future Federal Role for Surface Transportation."
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