US$9 billion cut from 2003 budget is “too much”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — State transportation projects and the economy could be in jeopardy due to a $8.6 billion 2003 transportation budget cut warns the American Highway Users Alliance.

“A 27 per cent cut in one year in the nation’s largest infrastructure program is too much,” says William D. Fay, president of the American Highway Users Alliance (HUA). “It would have serious economic repercussions just at a time when the country is struggling to get out of a recession, and it would be a devastating blow to our national transportation system.”

Fay noted that Nevada would lose more than $53 million of the $200 million it received in transportation funding this year. Similarly, Oklahoma would lose $118 million out of its $428 million in 2002 receipts. Fay says that the cut is likely to result in hundreds of thousands of lost jobs.

Fay says the Highway Users Alliance strongly supports The Highway Funding Restoration Act, which would restore $4.4 billion to FY 2003 transportation funding. He also encouraged Congress to enact the proposal to funnel gas tax receipts from the sale of ethanol into the Highway Trust Fund, close the loopholes that have been used by some individuals to evade fuel taxes, and invest in the nation’s transportation infrastructure.

“All of that money in the Highway Trust Fund has been paid by motorists. All of it was intended to be used for road and bridge improvements. It ought to be used for its intended purpose,” Fay says.

Fay says Congress should protect the integrity of highway use taxes and reject proposals that could reduce transportation funding, including the expansion of the ethanol mandate and suggestions that Highway Trust Fund monies be diverted to support passenger rail service.

“We need a well-funded federal highway program to improve safety, reduce congestion, enhance air quality, and keep our manufacturers and producers competitive in the marketplace,” Fay concludes.

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