The board of directors for the NATSO – the association representing U.S. truck stops and travel plazas – said any congressional proposals to pay for a new federal infrastructure investment program should provide "long-term, sustainable" funding that is user-based and efficient to collect.
Its emphasis on sustainable funding is similar to language other industry groups have used when saying Congress needs to finally fix the Highway Trust Fund by providing more dedicated funding, to keep it from running out of enough money to maintain its annual spending levels over time. The trust fund is on course to run out of money in fiscal 2021 unless Congress acts before then.
That is the latest in a series of industry announcements indicating that any investment plan Congress passes in the wake of President Trump's proposal should put the nation's main infrastructure account on a sustainable footing. The trust fund disburses most of its federal spending through formula programs that let state and local officials decide which projects to pay for, instead of grants that let federal officials pick which projects to fund and when to release the money. (See related story.)
NATSO said Feb. 20 that the board unanimously adopted a set of principles to guide the association's assessment of infrastructure funding proposals when it met at a NATSO conference in Nashville, Tenn.
"It is always our first priority to push for a long-term, sustainable solution to funding the nation's infrastructure because our industry depends on the efficient movement of motorists and goods along the Interstate Highway System," said Don Quinn, president of Sapp Bros. Travel Centers and current NATSO chairman.
NATSO's board, the announcement said, "determined that infrastructure funding should be user-based; simple, efficient and inexpensive to collect; difficult for taxpayers to evade; energy-source neutral; transparent; and dedicated to surface transportation for the benefit of the payer."
It said the board also "determined that revenue generated by any funding solution should contain automatic adjustments to mitigate trends that decrease the revenue it generates."
The group's news release added that "NATSO has long supported an increase in the motor fuels taxes as the most efficient and cost-effective method for generating long-term, sustainable revenues for infrastructure."
It also noted that "a number of business groups have introduced plans for making the Highway Trust Fund solvent, including the American Trucking Associations' Building America Fund, which is consistent with most of NATSO's newly adopted funding principles. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also has proposed a 25-cent per gallon increase in the gasoline tax."
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