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Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Insanity of Not Funding Our Highways and Infrastructure

Right now, neither our own Missouri state legislature nor our national, Federal, Congressional legislature are funding the maintenance, repair and improvements of our infrastructure--our highways, etc. This just broke in the last week:

No expansion projects for the next five yearssays MoDOT

No Missouri Department of Transportation expansion projects, such as new lanes, interchanges or bridges, are planned over the next five years. That represents a first in the department’s history, the result of a bleak funding outlook.

The belt-tightening comes as MoDOT braces for lean years after the death of a gasoline tax hike in the Legislature and rejection by voters of a sales tax increase that would have provided about $5.4 billion over 10 years for roads and bridges as well as ports, railways and public transit.

The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission this month approved MoDOT’s Statewide Transportation Improvement Program report, which covers plans for fiscal years 2016 to 2020.

Steve Miller, chairman of the commission, said in a post on MoDOT’s website Monday that the plan is a “glimpse to a future that no Missourian should want.”

He also said the first contract awards of the new fiscal year, which began this month, were the lowest in memory and bad for Missouri contractors, who are now seeking work in our neighboring states with brighter prospects.

But wait. It gets better. worse.

Some contractors already are leaving the road business to focus on railroad work, or leaving the state entirely, said Len Toenjes, president of the Associated General Contractors of Missouri.

“Our folks are at their wits’ end with what’s happening, or not happening, in Jefferson City and are going to work elsewhere,” he said.

Without any growth in state revenue, Missouri will not be able to match available federal transportation funds by fiscal year 2017. Missouri can match $1 of state funds with $4 of federal funds.

Then it gets downright stupid:

MoDOT has reduced its workforce by 20 percent, disposed of more than 750 pieces of equipment and sold 124 facilities since 2011 for savings of more than $605 million, the department said.

MoDOT estimates that $885 million of federal reimbursements in fiscal year 2016 will drop to $491 million in fiscal year 2020 due to declining construction because of “insufficient state revenues.”

By 2018, the state could lose $400 million in federal funds, even though Missourians will still be paying federal gasoline taxes that won’t fund Missouri projects.

We're turning away money. We're turning away, then, Federal dollars because we don't keep up our end of the investment bargain. And at the same time, we're paying into the "Federal pot" but not able to take what we should back out of it.

To whom but Right Wing, "Conservative" Republicans does this make sense?

And this is just on the state level. For anyone following highway funding on the Federal level, in Washington, we know there, too, the Right Wing Republicans, just like our Missouri representatives, are blocking any increase in this funding. It's ridiculous. And this on top of the fact that gasoline costs are at their lowest in years. This should make their job of raising these funds, the gas tax, all the easier. But then, these are Republicans.

They haven't raised the gas tax in years--since 1992--we drive less, as a nation, than we used so that also shrinks the fund and we need more and more repair and updates to our highways and infrastructure. It's insane. It's certainly fiscally irresponsible.

Think about this, too.

If Congress, in Washington, were to pass a good, reasonable gas tax, as they ought, so we can get money to and in the Highway Fund and then were to pass a good, true, workable, comprehensive jobs/infrastructure bill---translated: DO THEIR JOBS---we could give more Americans jobs and get more Americans to work, improve our infrastructure and boost the economy, all three. Three total, huge wins. For anyone and anywhere else, this would be a no-brainer. But then we're dealing with Right Wingers. And Republicans. And people who don't want this president to be successful.

So screw you, America. You have to wait.

You have to wait until there's a Republican back in the White House.

If even then.

God forbid.

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