Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works asks for more Money for the Tribal Transportation Program
Posted by nativelawpolicy
In a markup hearing this morning, the EPW unanimously approved the “Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act” (“DRIVE”). The bill proposes a six-year plan to address the transportation funding crisis and associated infrastructure shortfalls. Chairman Inhofe stated that the progression of the bill hinges on the elimination of red tape and redundancies that prevent large scale projects from being realized in a timely manner.
Although not discussed during today’s proceedings, the Act as it is currently written includes adjustments to the Tribal Transportation Program which would allocate more money for transportation projects on tribal land. The adjustments would set aside $460,000,000 for the 2016 fiscal year and would increase by $10,000,000 each consecutive FY up to $510,000,000 by 2021. The DRIVE Act also creates a “Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects Program” which would set aside funding for construction or maintenance projects sponsored by eligible Federal land management agencies or Indian tribes. Other amendments to Title 23 include a provision making tribal transportation facilities projects eligible for emergency assistance; also, the administrative expenses are expected to be cut from 6 percent to 5 percent while increasing the potential amount set aside for tribal transportation facilities bridges from 2 percent to 3 percent for each FY.
With just under forty days until the current highway program extension expires, the committee stressed the importance of continued bipartisan cooperation to ensure the creation of viable sources of revenue for the Act.
Click to view the hearing Webcast
Below are excerpts from the DRIVE Act that impact Tribal transportation funds. The excerpts may be truncated.
Title I—Federal-Aid Highways
Subtitle A—Authorizations and Programs
Sec. 1001. Tribal Transportation Program.—
For the tribal transportation program under section 202 of title 23, United States Code—
- $470,000,000 for fiscal year 2017;
- $480,000,000 for fiscal year 2018;
- $490,000,000 for fiscal year 2019;
- $500,000,000 for fiscal year 2020; and
- $510,000,000 for fiscal year 2021.
Sec. 1022. Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads.
- —Section 125(d)(3) of title 23, United States Code, is amended—
- in subparagraph (A), by striking “or” at the end;
- in subparagraph (B), by striking the period at the end and inserting “; or”; and
- by adding at the end of the following:
“(C) projects eligible for assistance under this section located on tribal transportation facilities, Federal lands transportation facilities, or other federally owned roads that are open to public travel (as defined in subsection (e)(1)).”.
Sec. 1026. Tribal Transportation Program Amendment.
Section 202 of title 23, United States Code, is amended—
- in section (a)(6), by striking “6 percent” and inserting “5 percent”; and
- in subsection (d)(2), in the matter preceding subparagraph (A) by striking “2 percent” and inserting “3 percent”.
Sec. 1027. Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects Program.
- —The Secretary shall establish a nationally significant Federal lands and tribal projects program (referred to in this section as the “program”) to provide funding to construct, reconstruct, or rehabilitate nationally significant Federal lands and tribal transportation projects.
- Eligible Applicants.—
- In General.—Except as provided in paragraph (2), entities eligible to receive funds under sections 201, 202, 203, and 204 of title 23, United States Code, may apply for funding under the program.
- Special Rule.—A State, county, or unit of local government may only apply for funding under the program if sponsored by an eligible Federal land management agency or Indian tribe.
- Eligible Projects.—An eligible project under the program shall be a single continuous project—
- on a Federal lands transportation facility, a Federal lands access transportation facility, or a Tribal transportation facility (as those terms are defined in section 101 of title 23, United States Code), except that such facility is not required to be included on an inventory described in sections 202 or 203 of title 23, United States Code;
- for which completion of activities required under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) has been demonstrated through—
- a record of decision with respect to the project;
- a finding that the project has no significant impact; or
- a determination that the project is categorically excluded; and
- having an estimated cost, based on the results of preliminary engineering, equal to or exceeding $25,000,000, with priority consideration given to projects with an estimated cost equal to or exceeding $50,000,000.
- Eligible Activities.—
- In General—Subject to paragraph (2), an eligible applicant receiving funds under the program may only use the funds for construction, reconstruction, and rehabilitation activities.
- Selection Criteria.—In selecting a project to receive funds under the program, the Secretary shall consider the extent to which the project—
- furthers the goals of the Department, including state of good repair, environmental sustainability, economic competitiveness, quality of life, and safety;
- improves the condition of critical multimodal transportation facilities;
- needs construction, reconstruction, or rehabilitation;
- is included in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places;
- enhances environmental ecosystems;
- uses new technologies and innovations that enhance the efficiency of the project;
- is supported by funds, other than the funds received under the program, to construct, maintain, and operate the facility;
- spans 2 or more States; and
- serves land owned by multiple Federal agencies or Indian tribes.
Sec. 2101. Tribal Data Collection.
Section 201(c)(6) of title 23, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
“(C) Tribal Data Collection.—In addition to the data to be collected under subparagraph (A), not later than 90 days after the end of each fiscal year, any entity carrying out a project under the tribal transportation program under section 202 shall submit to the Secretary and the Secretary of the Interior, based on obligations and expenditures under the tribal transportation program during the preceding fiscal year, the following data:
“(i) The names of projects or activities carried out by the entity under the tribal transportation program during the preceding fiscal year.
“(ii) A description of the projects or activities identified under clause (i).
“(iii) The current status of the projects or activities identified under clause (i).
“(iv) An estimate of the number of jobs created and the number of jobs retained by the projects or activities identified under clause (i).”.
Title VI—Extension of Federal-Aid Highway Programs
Sec. 6001. Extension of Federal-Aid Highway Programs.
(c) Tribal High Priority Projects Program.–
Section 1123(h)(1) of MAP-21 (23 U.S.C. 202 note; Public Law 112-141) is amended—
- by striking “$24,986,301” and inserting “$30,000,000”; and
by striking “July 31, 2015” and inserting “September 30, 2015″.
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Highway Trust Fund – How it works
Posted by nativelawpolicy
The Highway Trust Fund, which collects and allocates money to build and maintain surface transportation structures, receives almost 90 percent of its funding from a fuel tax on gasoline and diesel, while remaining revenue comes from miscellaneous taxes on tires, heavy vehicles, etc. Since 1993 the fuel tax has not adjusted. Advancements in technology has led to a decrease in the amount of fuel consumed and thus a decrease in revenue. Additionally, the almost 25 percent of the revenue from the fuel tax is diverted away from highway spending.
The Highway Trust Fund itself is divided into two accounts—the Highway Account and the Mass Transit Account—and each account expends roughly 85 percent and 15 percent of the total funds respectively. Highway Trust Fund spending has routinely outpaced fuel tax revenue. For the 2015 fiscal year, the Highway Account is estimated to spend upwards of $44 billion on roadway infrastructure and similar projects while only taking in $34 billion. Including the deficit accumulated by the Mass Transit Account, the Highway Trust Fund is expected to amass a deficit of $13 billion by the end of the 2015 FY.
Because the Highway Trust Fund cannot have a negative balance and must have a $5 billion minimum balance to meet obligations, Congress must shift money from the Treasury’s general fund. Over the last six years, Congress has diverted general fund dollars to the Highway Trust Fund more than thirty times. These “patches” are short-term fixes typically lasting from six months to a year and do not represent viable options in the long run.
Proposals for sustainable solutions include:
- Increasing fuel tax
- Decreases non-highway spending
- Taxing the overseas earnings of multinational corporations (repatriation)
- Downsizing Federal role in transportation
- Additional State actions such as tolls, bonds, sales taxes
Click here for more information on how the Highway Trust Fund works.
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Tags: department of transportation, federal budget, federal funding, federal highways, federal spending, fuel tax, highway trust fund, how things work, indian law, legal issues, Liz Walker, map-21, native american, native american attorneys, native law and policy, transportation, transportation reauthorization, United States Congress, Walker Law