Highway Trust Fund

By Jeff Berman · July 22, 2016
In a world filled with uncertainties, there are at least two certainties in the world of freight transportation, supply chain management, and logistics as it relates to federal policy: the federal gasoline tax will never see an increase and national transportation infrastructure that is badly needed will never receive the requisite amounts needed.
By Jeff Berman · November 13, 2015
In a research brief issued on Nov. 10, EIA said that at the end of July the HTF was at its lowest level in decades at $6.1 billion. And while a Congressionally approved transfer of more than $8 billion brought the HTF balance to $12 billion at the end of the fiscal year on September 30, it still represented the second-lowest fiscal year-end level since 1984, more than 30 years ago.
By John D. Schulz · January 19, 2015
Congress should put aside its philosophical differences and make a long-deferred investment in transportation infrastructure through a “dime or two” per-gallon increase in the federal fuel tax, which should be made more politically palatable by more accurately referring to it as a “user fee” rather than a tax.
By John D. Schulz · December 16, 2014
The Highway Trust Fund is irretrievably broken and should be eliminated in favor of a new system of revenue streams or by dedicating a portion of the federal income tax to pay for transportation. That’s the conclusion of a new multi-year report by the Eno Foundation, an influential Washington transportation think tank. The report, released in early December, was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.
By John D. Schulz · December 15, 2014
The biggest issue for transport in 2015 is funding for Interstate highways. That current funding will expire in May after a stop-gap nine-month continuing resolution expires. Whether the new Congress has the gumption to tackle the sticky problem of how to pay for much-needed highway and bridge reconstruction is an open question, however.
By Jeff Berman · July 16, 2014
The House of Representatives voted by a 367-55 margin to approve H.R. 5021, the Highway Transportation and Funding Act of 2014, which will keep federal transportation funding intact through May 2015.
By Jeff Berman · July 11, 2014
In recent days, both the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee have been working on bills that each have the intention of keeping the HTF afloat, but, unsurprisingly, neither calls for what would appear to be the easiest way of doing so, which is the simply raise the tax.
By Jeff Berman · April 3, 2014
As we have written about extensively, having sufficient capital in the HTF is critical as its revenues are allocated for federal highway, transit, and highway safety programs. But as we also know the main funding source for the HTF, the federal gasoline tax, has not increased from its current levels of 23.4 cents for diesel and 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline since 1994. What’s more, diesel taxes represent about 90 percent of Highway Trust Fund (HTF) net revenues.
By Jeff Berman · October 28, 2013
Things are nowhere near perfect when it comes to solutions for transportation funding and how to make things better. But even with the angst and the related risks in today’s political sphere, it is clear that some baby steps toward some type of progress are actually happening, albeit at a very slow pace.
By Jeff Berman · October 2, 2013
Whether or not the federal government is open or not, one thing (among many, to be sure) that remains largely inactive is the lack of any semblance of meaningful progress when it comes to fixing the many issues stemming from the federal gasoline tax.
By Jeff Berman · July 25, 2013
The fact that the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) is financially challenged comes as no surprise to anyone involved in freight transportation and supply chain circles. What’s more, now that it is on the verge of insolvency, how to address that problem appears to be gaining traction in Congress. That was a major takeaway of a hearing hosted this week by the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit entitled “How the Financial Status of the Highway Trust Fund Impacts Surface Transportation Programs.”
By Jeff Berman · June 26, 2012
The Highway Trust Fund (HTF) currently takes in and pays out about $35 billion per year— excluding transfers from the Treasury General Fund. What started off as a user-fee system to pay for highway construction and repair has morphed into a large federal “cookie jar” that politicians use to direct money to their favorite causes while our highways and bridges deteriorate at an alarming pace. Now is the time to take the cookie jar back.
By John D. Schulz · June 22, 2012
Thanks in part to heavy last-minute lobbying by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as other groups including freight transportation shippers, House and Senate conference committee members were furiously at work to produce a multi-year bill before the current funding mechanism expired on June 30.
By Jeff Berman · March 2, 2012
If you thought that getting a new federal transportation bill in place would be an easy and fluid process, think again. Any assumptions that meaningful progress would be occurring at this point is pretty much a pipe dream.
By Jeff Berman · December 2, 2011
There is different type of football being played in the nation’s capital when it comes to long-term transportation funding. And that is called political football. It is likely you have heard of it, especially since SAFETEA-LU expired in September 2009.

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From the July 2016 Issue
While it’s currently a shippers market, the authors of this year’s report contend that we’ve entered a “period of transition” that will usher in a realignment of capacity, lower inventories, economic growth and “moderately higher” rates. It’s time to tighten the ties that bind.
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