Will Obama get this message on President’s Day?

The President’s proposed fiscal 2017 budget fails to hit the HMT target, it also fails to continue funding the HMT donor equity provisions that Congress initiated last year. AAPA strongly supports those provisions.

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When Congress passed the overwhelmingly-supported and bipartisan Water Resources and Reform Development Act (WRRDA) in 2014, it established annual incremental increases for Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) funded work.

That would lead to full use of revenues in fiscal 2025, as highlighted in “Hit the HMT Target” campaign launched by the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA).

Not only does the President’s proposed fiscal 2017 budget fail to hit the HMT target, it also fails to continue funding the HMT donor equity provisions that Congress initiated last year. AAPA strongly supports those provisions.

“It’d be a grievous ‘miss’ if this budget is adopted,” Says Kurt Nagle, AAPA’s president and CEO.  “By underfunding needed waterside investments, it breaks a vital link in the supply chain that disadvantages the entire freight-handling system, waterside and landside.”

The $951 million requested by the President for maintaining America’s deep-draft harbors is 22 percent less than the $1.22 billion appropriated by Congress for fiscal 2016.  Furthermore, the budget request for the Corps’ coastal navigation construction program appears to be significantly less than the congressionally-approved fiscal 2016 budget.

Specifically, the proposed budget calls for:

  • Expanding the multi-modal TIGER program to $1.25 billion annually, an increase from the fiscal 2016 level of $500 million.

  • Providing $850 million for Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects, a new discretionary grant program established by the FAST Act for major highway and freight projects that will achieve national transportation objectives.

  • Providing $1.1 billion for the National Highway Freight Program, established by the FAST Act, which will provide states with necessary funds for vital projects that will improve the movement of freight on the National Highway Freight Network.

  • Allowing $275 million to provide credit assistance for nationally or regionally significant transportation projects through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program. This program leverages private sector investments in public infrastructure projects, including those at seaports.

  • Funding $10 million for the EPA’s DERA grants program, which represents an 80 percent drop from the current $50 million funding level. Ports use these grants in a variety of ways, including the Clean Truck programs, retrofitting or replacing yard equipment, installing shore power for vessels at docks, and retrofitting dredges and tugs.

  • Funding port security grants, that are part of FEMA’s National Preparedness Grant Program, at $93 million…a 7 percent decrease from the fiscal 2016 level of $100 million. Unlike previous years’ budgets when the request called for moving this and other FEMA grant programs to the states, today’s request is in line with AAPA’s recommendation, calling for port security grants to continue being managed at the federal level.

“While AAPA believes the Administration’s budget would lead to improved freight movement over our surface transportation system, all would be for naught if the budget’s proposed cuts to waterside infrastructure programs were adopted,” says Nagle. “If we can’t get the goods efficiently and competitively into and out of our country through seaports and waterside navigation channels, American manufacturers won’t be able to receive the materials and/or components they need, and they as well as U.S. farmers, won’t be able to competitively export their products globally.  In addition, U.S. retailers and consumers will suffer.”

Nagle further notes that AAPA is also puzzled by the 80 percent decrease in DERA grant funds despite the President’s call in a Feb. 4 press release to devote those funds to improve air quality as part of his climate change initiative.

“As the Administration and Congress grapple with the multiple goals of reducing the nation’s debt while growing jobs and the economy, federal investments in ports and their connecting waterside and landside infrastructure continue to be an essential, effective utilization of limited resources, paying dividends through increased trade, jobs, enhanced international competitiveness, and over $320 billion a year in tax revenues,” Nagle says.


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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Article Topics

AAPA · Infrastructure · Obama · Ports · All Topics
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