May 06,2014

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Wyden Calls for Sustainable Solution to Highway Trust Fund

Finance Chairman: "We Need to Get Private Capital Off the Sidelines and Into the Game"

WASHINGTON –Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., called during a hearing today for a sustainable fix to the Highway Trust Fund, which faces insolvency before the end of this fiscal year. Wyden also said Congress needs to explore innovative solutions to bring more private capital investment to infrastructure projects.

“My bottom line is that you can’t have big-league quality of life or big-league economic growth with little-league infrastructure,” Senator Wyden said. “Congress needs to find a sustainable source of funds that keeps this crunch from happening again. Failure is not an option. It would be a mistake to let highway funding become another stop-and-go extender issue like Medicare physician payments and many important tax incentives.”

The Highway Trust Fund channels money to states for road and bridge construction, transit infrastructure and operations, and safety programs. The trust fund faces insolvency this fiscal year due to a revenue shortfall that will force states to cannibalize their own budgets or effectively cut thousands of jobs if left unaddressed. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has said at least 6,000 projects across the country could be halted due to the shortfall.

Wyden said Congress needs to tackle the short-term problem of insolvency this fiscal year and find a sustainable source to keep the trust fund solvent for the next six years. It’s critical that these two issues are solved to protect the thousands of jobs these projects support and give states certainty as they plan long-term infrastructure spending.

Wyden also said more innovative ideas are needed to boost investment in infrastructure by private capital. He highlighted the Build America Bonds program which helped finance more than $180 billion in projects, far more than originally anticipated.

“In the global competition for investment and jobs, the condition of our infrastructure is a big part in determining the outcome,” Senator Wyden said. “We need to aim high and build a bipartisan coalition for policies that generate $1 trillion of investment in American infrastructure.”

Watch Wyden’s remarks here. The full text of the statement is available here.