Alaska Congressman Don Young released an infrastructure framework on Thursday that he hopes will earn bipartisan support and bolster America’s infrastructure for years to come.
“This week, talks between the White House and my Senate colleagues have broken down. This impasse appears not only to be over the definition and price tag of an infrastructure package, but also over how to pay for it. I understand that this is a sensitive topic, but I am prepared to have this conversation. The Congress should not move forward via the budget reconciliation process, and it is my hope that President Biden will not give up on negotiations,” Young said.
Young’s plan would spend $1.25 trillion on these components:
Surface Transportation Reauthorization Legislation (Roads, Bridges, Safety, Transit, and Rail) – $500 billion
- The current authorization expires at the end of this fiscal year. Congress should negotiate and pass a bipartisan 5-year surface transportation reauthorization through regular order that provides long term solvency for the Highway Trust Fund.
- The bill should include a onetime increase to the federal motor fuel excise tax for gasoline and diesel to account for post-1993 inflation, and index it to the CPI thereafter.
- Part of the controversy over how much to invest and where to invest in our nation’s transportation system will be alleviated by putting the Highway Trust Fund on a trajectory for long term solvency.
- According to the Congressional Budget Office, beginning in FY 2008, and in each subsequent fiscal year to date, Highway Trust Fund outlays have exceeded revenues received. As a result, Congress has transferred approximately $157 billion to the fund from the general fund of the Treasury and other sources.
- The bill should address the issue of electric vehicles by requiring that the Department of Transportation study and implement the phasing in of a user fee for passenger and commercial electric vehicles over a period of five years.
- Additionally, the bill should require that DOT study and implement a plan for how gas, diesel, and alternative fuel vehicles should be transitioned away from the fuel excise tax to a user fee over a period of no more than 10 years.
- The bill should also include project financing along with delivery and permitting reforms to ensure that additional federal investments are not mired in bureaucracy and litigation.
- Addressing the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund will give users and states long-term certainty to finance projects and plan investments.
Supplemental Appropriations for Infrastructure Investments (Airports, Ports & Waterways, Water Infrastructure, Electrical Generation & Grid Modernization, Broadband, and Congressionally Directed Project Spending) – $750 billion
- Both the Republican Roadmap and the American Jobs Plan have not met a middle ground on the amount of new federal spending and how to pay for it. Young says his framework seeks to find this middle ground.
- The bill should include an increase in the corporate tax rate, excluding small and family owned businesses, to offset some of the cost of this additional spending. The rate increase would be limited to no more than a 4% increase to a rate of 25%.
- Small and family owned businesses will be exempted from this increase.
- Congress should recognize that there is wisdom in the “user pays user benefits” principle. Corporations benefit from and are users of America’s infrastructure. The benefits of a modernized national transportation system over the long term will outweigh the costs of a rate increase.
- Congress should allocate a portion of the $750 billion for congressionally directed spending on projects in their states and home districts.
- Members of Congress are closest to their constituencies and understand their needs better than the federal government agencies that currently award federal infrastructure monies through existing formulas or competitive grant programs.
- The return of Community Project Funding in the FY22 Appropriations Process and Member Designated Projects for the Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill have drawn significant interest from members and when paired with strong disclosure and ethics requirements these are a valuable and way to demonstrate the value of federal investment in member’s districts.
Meanwhile, on the Senate side, a group of 10 senators will begin negotiating with President Joe Biden, who wants infrastructure money to pay for day care and elder care, which have never before been considered infrastructure.