tv Federal Highway and Transit Programs CSPAN February 1, 2015 4:40am-7:01am EST
senate considers a house spending bill. it includes language to block president obama's executive order on immigration. lieutenant governor mitch mcconnell announced a vote that will be taken on tuesday. a 60-vote is needed to advance the measure. current funding runs out on february 27. it is what senator mcconnell has to say from the senate floor. >> is a debate that will challenge our colleagues on the other side with a simple proposition. do they think presidents of either party should have the power to simply ignore laws that they do not like? our democratic colleagues work with us to defend key democratic ideals like separation of the rule of law but will they stand tall on the exercise of raw power? we do two things, funded the
department of homeland security into rain in a executive overreach. that is it. it is simple. there is no reason for democrats to block it. >> politico reports that senate democrats intend to to block the homeland spending bill. one democrat who has spoken out against it is senate minority whip dick durbin. he called for a clean appropriation bill while speaking for the american advocates group, america's voice. you can watch tuesday at 2:30 eastern. as always, we will have coverage on c-span3. >> next, transportation secretary anthony foxx talks to a committee about the future of the highway trust fund and live at 7:00 a.m. your questions and
>> the meeting will come to order. i say to my friend, the ranking member, that the whole right side back there is oklahoma. i came in last night and they were having a dinner, i thought two or three people, i knew gary ridley would be there, he always is. but it is all familiar faces. we have a concern -- there is a lot of things about what is the government supposed to be doing and quite often, and the reason i got in on this 20 years ago, is because this is what we are supposed to be doing. building america and infrastructure. we understand that in oklahoma. we have gone through a process and i recall over in the house secretary foxx knew what the biggest problem was in the
highway trust fund? too much surplus. that was the problem we had. we know what happened since that time and we cannot continue to do as we have done in the past. i think i do have an opening statement i will submit as part of the record. i think the significance of this meeting, i say to my friends on the left and right, is that we want to do it right this time. and we have done patchwork and put together things we think are a good idea and i have to see this: we have had successes. i didn't like the way things went back in the 27-month bill we had.
i didn't like the idea a lot of republicans, my good friends were not realizing and thinking they were doing the conservative thing because it is a big bill. but it isn't. the conservative thing is to pass the bill instead of having the extension. and secretary foxx has been out in oklahoma and we have talked about this at length; the cost of extensions i think it is around 30% off the top. the good news is the house, when we went over after the bill, and talked to them about this constitutional responsibility we have, everyone of the 33 republicans and the democrats on the house tni committee voted for it. that is a major break at the time. i see that happening again here.
so we are going to be doing the right thing now. and as we know, we decided to do -- we will make one change in the committee and we will not have everyone have the open hearings because we have witnesses coming in and spent a lot of time listening to each other. i will yield to senator boxer and we will continue the hearing >> mr. chairman, thank you so much for making this your first hearing. nothing could please us more because we know this is an area there is bipartisan support for. and i think senator vitter and i -- it is no secret we don't see eye to eye on much but we were able to get a good bill done through this committee. and i have to make a point, mr. chairman, we were the only committee to act last congress. no committee of the senate or house but this committee. and with your leadership, we will be working together here to get this done. i am going to ask consent to put my statement in the record and make four very brief points. first, we can do nothing more important for jobs, businesses and for this economy, for this
middle class than passing a multi-year highway bill. that is the first point. secondally, we have a great record of bipartisan on the issue. so nothing should stop us. and again i point to last year when we acted with no other committee acted in the senate or the house. there was bipartisan paralysis except for us and this committee. and i am so proud of that. and we need to take the leadership again. and hopefully this time it will be mutilated. -- emulated. three, we have to have the courage in the senate and in the house to fund a multi-year bill.
we cannot leap over that idea to an extension. and that leads me to my next point. we are getting close to the bankruptcy of the highway trust fund. may 31st. mr. chairman, i would ask rhetorically if you go to the bank and want to buy a house and the bank says, oh, great, we will give you the money but only for five months. you are going to walk away. you are not going to buy a house if all you know is you have credit. that is what they have done. when i say they, the vast majority of our colleagues hunted this. -- punted this. and this is awful. this is the greatest country in the world. we will not remain so if our bridges are falling down, if our highways are crumbling and other ramifications of not investing. we need certainty. i do want to say i learned from my staff and i don't know if your staff informed you that the deficit in the trust fund is less than we thought it would be.
we were anticipating $18 billion a year over six years, it is $13 billion over six years. >> i thought it was $15. >> it is a lot less than we thought. it is $13 billion a year. if we cannot find that. i think it is 1.2 trillion budget on discretionary spending. if we cannot find that to build the infrastructure we have failed as a congress. so with your leadership, and with all of your strong support from oklahoma, i think we will get things done here. i look forward to it. >> thank you. thank you, senator boxer. it is my honor to introduce and present, not really introduce, secretary foxx. he has been a great secretary of transportation. it has been a very difficult job. we have had a chance to break ground on a lot of good things in my state of oklahoma. so i am thankful you are doing
what you are doing and you are going to be in on the big kill and we will do it together. secretary foxx. >> thank you very much, mr. for were your kind word and your leadership and the leadership of ranking member senator barbara boxer. the work you are done and continue to do on this issue is vitally important and i want to tell you we appreciate your service. i want to thank the entire committee here. we are in a new year with a new congress but i am here to discuss an old issue. the need for a new transportation bill. it has been said a multi-year transportation bill with funding growth and policy reforms focused on america's future. america is in a race. not just against our global com competitors but the progress our nation has shown for years. we are behind in the race and when you are behind you must run faster and do more than keep pace.
the transportation system itself doesn't care about the political challenge of addressing its needs. we are eeth meeting the needs or we are not. in the past year i have been to 41 states and over a hundred cities. mr. chairman, you were kind enough to invite me to oklahoma where we saw a stretch of i-44 just south of tulsa that needs to be widened but the funds just aren't there. there are thousands of miles of highway projects in oklahoma that needs to be widened, but the fund's are just not there. there are thousands of miles of highway projects in oklahoma that the d.o.t. said are critical but they are not being built or repaired.
unfortunately, oklahoma isn't alone. i visited the bridge that connects kentucky and ohio. it is well over 50 years old and has twice the traffic it was designed for. chunks of concrete are falling on parked cars below. it must be replaced but there is no real man on how to pay for it. or you can look at tennessee the state d.o.t. there postponed $400 million in project and the thousands of jobs that come with them because of quote unquote funding uncertainty here in washington. now tennessee isn't the only state to slow or stop projects but it may be the first state to tell the unvarnished truth. last year we sent you the grow america act that included 350 pages of precise policy prescriptions and substang stanti stantial funding growth focused on the future.
to protect and defend, and for me that means protecting and defending america's fundamental ability to move to get to work school, to get kids from the factory to the shelf, but i can't do that, they can do that, and we can't do that unless we take bold action now. i am here to work with you and am looking forward to your questions.
we are also going to need a greater investment over time. not just six years. it is one thing to take projects that can take five years or more. i think senator ochsner's analogy of trying to buy a house with a five-month loan is a great analogy. there are important policy changes that need to be dealt with. so projects go from blue print to in the ground as fast as possible. we believe we can do that while ensuring better outcomes for the environment. we also believe in opening the door to more. by allowing to give others boys and what it's built. we believe in strengthening the
by america program. we would like to build american product's american hands and do everything possible to keep americans safe as they travel in 2015 and beyond. we need to combat threats we may not expect in this new century. in the end both i and my department have a great respect for what this committee has done and the work ahead of it. including getting map 21 past. now it is time to build on that work. when i was sworn in i took the same oath that you did to protect in defend. to me that means protecting and defending americans fundamental ability to move. to work, to get to school, to get from the factory to the shelf. i cannot do that, we cannot do
that, they cannot do that unless we take bold action now. i am here to work with you and i am also looking forward to your questions. thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. secretary. i have often thought in your job there is no better that ground than to have been the mayor of a large city. you and i have talked about that in the past. when you see the things that you know are working, you wonder sometimes how we can build on these two do an even better job. people, i know when they walk out of fear they are going to want to talk about, had you pay for it? there are some areas that are not really -- that are sometimes controversy all and i have to appreciate both sides working together on some of these answers. you mention in hands men's and
some of the streamlining. we have done a lot of good things already. what more is out there that is obvious to you that would make it go faster, get more done for less money, and get off the ground quicker? >> thank you, mr. chairman. that is a very important question. we do have experience in the recent past rolling out some of the work, doing concurrent reviews in our permitting process which effectively allows all of the agencies to sit at the same table at the same time in the construction of a project, to comment at a time at which the project can still be changed to respond to the committee. i will give you an example. there is a $5 billion project in new york. we applied concurrent reviews to that project them were able to reduce the permitting time. we do believe has an opportunity
-- there is an opportunity -- >> it is really a direct result of the changes that we made in coming to this place. >> it was building out a lot of the work that map 21 contained. there was some administrative work that went into putting that on a dashboard he assuring that the agencies work together. there are additional tools that can be provided to enable that to happen more into the good news is that when you do concurrent reviews you are not sacrificing the environment. you are putting the environment at an earlier stage and getting better results. >> that is right. senator boxer. next thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, i am going to press on you right now what is happening on the ground because
we have failed as a government to give any certainty to this process. we know they at tennessee and arkansas have delayed hundreds of millions of dollars in highway projects this year. this whole game of waiting and then passion it in tea months, this is a disaster. can you discuss the likelihood that we're going to see these cutbacks continue if we don't take action soon to shore up the trust fund? >> thank you for the question. this is a crisis that is actually worse than i think most people realize. your point is very well taken. we have a may 31, 2015 point at which the funding of the 10-month extension runs out. but the state departments of transportation are having to figure out what their plan of work is going to be during the height of construction season,
which starts right about the same time that the extension runs out. so i predict that over the course of the next few months, you're going to see more state departments of transportation start to slow or stop projects because they don't know what's on the other side of may 31. so from a timing perspective, i think we have a problem sooner than may 31 in terms of the situation on the ground. i think what you're going to see is states pulling back even before may. >> well, that's basically my question. i'm not going to take any more time. the one point i'm going to make over and over again to anyone who will listen, and some will and some won't, this is our duty, this is our job, this is the best thing we do for the country. this is the most bipartisan thing we can do, and this committee, i'm urging, and i know the chairman feels as i do, that we need to step out
here. i would say to colleagues here we have a really great trolley play by stepping out again and doing the right thing. we have the blueprint. we put it together about all your help. that may not be the exact blueprint we go with, but it's a definite start, so thank you in your very calm and collected manner for letting us know that lack of action is already happening, having a result and impact on the ground, and the impact is bad. it's bad for businesses. it's bad for jobs. it's bad for communities, for our local people, and that's the point i think i wanted to make, and you made it very eloquently. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you senator boxer. >> thank you mr. chairman. i want to echo the comments that have been made about the bipartisan work of this committee on infrastructure. last congress, this committee on a completely bipartisan basis produced a really good
water resources bill, water infrastructure bill that was very important for our ports and waterways, and that infrastructure commerce, and as senator boxer mentioned we put together a very good highway bill in this committee. we have the easy part, quite frankly, so i don't want to overstate it. we put together the transportation part of the highway bill good bill, very bipartisan basis, but the finance committee has the hard part, which is the financing part. i want to cut right to that, so i agree with you. we need to get this done. we need to get it done on a medium to long-term basis, not another band-aid approach. my suggestion for all of us who truly want to do that is to cut right to the chase and really dive in to those discussions about how we finance it in a
realistic way. folks on the left, including the administration, may have ideas that are perfectly valid ideas that just objectively are going nowhere in this congress. folks on the right in this congress may have ideas that are perfectly valid ideas that are going nowhere with this administration. my suggestion is we blow past that, don't don't waste time, and cut to the chase of where we may find a common solution. i believe realistically there are three realistic categories to focus on. one is the traditional gas tax, the traditional means of financing the highway trust fund. i believe that is only realistic, only a possibility n my opinion now, this is just my political judgment, i can't prove this, but i think it's only a possibility if we give all middle class and lower middle class taxpayers a tax
offset something off their income tax, they're withholding something, so they are held harmless, so they do not pay a higher federal overall tax bill. second big category, i believe is tax reform, maybe focusing on business tax reform, and using elements of that namely repatriation to have a significant amount of money for the federal highway program. that is not a truly permanent solution, but those are big dollars that could fund a significant bill of a significant duration. and then third big category is some domestic energy production with the additional royalty and revenue dedicated to the highway trust fund. now, i would like to see that to a much greater extent than
i'm sure realistic given the sensibilities of folks on the other side of the aisle and the administration and so in the spirit that i began, with i'm not suggesting david vitter's plan, which is a great one, by the way, but i'm suggesting some expanded production which is good for american energy independence, good for our economy, and would produce significant new revenue at least when the price of oil gets to a better place more stable place that could be dedicated to the highway trust fund. my question is what's the administration doing to cut to the chase and explore those three categories? >> thank you for your answer. let me answer it directly and also make a point. the administration has put forward a proposal to use pro-growth business tax reform
to pay for our up from a structure. what we would basically do is put, in addition to what the gas tax is currently spinning off, it is less than what the highway trust fund needs to be level, but we put another amount of a like amount into our infrastructure to not only replenish the highway trust fund, but to do more than that, which leads me to the point that i want to make, which is that i think there needs to be a conversation about what this is. what number are we trying to get to? if you think about me and our department as contractors, we can try to go out and build what congress urges us to do. but i want to make it very clear that we can't go out and build a great big mansion if we have the resources to build a hut, and i think that our system right now really needs a
substantial injecks for a long-term bill, but also to counteract the cumulative effect of the recent past. >> mr. secretary, just one follow-up real quick on the that specific point, is there a version of that proposal you're talking about that doesn't have the big tax increase on successful folks as part of it, because going back to the spirit of my comments i'm suggesting that, you know, we get real and we cut to the chase so we actually solve this in a meaningful way by may. if we're just talking about that version, in all due respect, i don't think that's sort of meeting my test. >> well, you know, the green book last year published three specific ideas about pro-growth business tax reform that i think potentially would meet your test. one was eliminating lifo. another one was eliminating accelerated depression. and a third one was pulling
some of the untaxed corporate earnings overseas and bringing those back home. those three very specific ideas are ones that seem to be within the parameters that you've mentioned. let me also extend to you, senator, and to the committee and to the entire senate and house, the full measure of my attention to help you get to yes on a solution here, because i think it is vital for the country. >> thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman, i appreciate that. thank you for your work. i strongly support a reauthorization, long term of our transportation needs. it needs to be long term. this has been pointed out. our states and counties cannot plan without the long-term commitment from the federal
government as their partner. it needs to be robust, because it's not only the new roads and bridges and transit systems that we need, but it's also maintaining the infrastructure we have. so we have to focus on this. i do want to maintain. i think this is an important part, the flexibility. i represent maryland, the baltimore-washington area is the most congested area in the nation. we need to invest in transit, and we have a game plan to do that. we want to stay on that game plan but a large part of that depends on the ability of a sustained federal partner, and that requires a long-term reauthorization of a robust bill. i also want to emphasize the need for giving our local governments flexibility. i worked with the program that allows locals to make decisions, our mayors, our county people to make decisions as to what's in their best
interest so we have livable communities where you can walk and bike and keep cars off the roads when they're not necessary. we had a tragic bike accident in baltimore just recently, and it's critically important that our local governments have the ability to keep their people safe. we had another tragedy near washington, and we've been working with your staff to make sure that we find out as soon as possible how we can make the metro system safe in other words, we don't wait a year for the full review before we implement changes to make sure the passengers are as safe as possible.
i never know whether it's going to take me one hour or three hours to get in. i just urge you to be bold. i think this committee is prepared to be bold t. just seems to me with the price of energy today, we should be able to get the resources we need noffered to do what our constituents want us to do, have a modern transportation system be able to maintain that and create the economic engine that will create jobs for the people of our community. that's our goal. that's what we're trying to do. i just want you to know we appreciate your commitment to this, and you have a lot of partners on this committee. thank you, mr. chairman.
>> in your testimony, you state projects undergo unnecessarily long reviews, and we need to ex-peed ate high-priority projects and identify best practices to guide future efforts. i couldn't agree with you more. as you know, in nebraska, our department of roads, our cities, our counties they've been very frustrated with the federal highway administration, what i would call unpredictable approach to the environmental review process. you know that we have been trying to work on that. i don't believe that it exhorts with the performance base, data-driven approach of map 21. i think those reviews need to be performance-oriented, not solely processed based and certainly not inflexible. i appreciated your earlier
comment about a concurrent review process where you can cut it down from three to five years to 18 months. that would be great. that would be great if we can do that. i hope that the federal highway administration is going to continue to work with nebraska so we can get there. as you know, limited resources become even more stretched and stressed when we have a process that i believe is not working the way it's supposed to. what do you think we can do to be sure that that state of good repair projects within existing right aways are exempt from what i call a counterproductive consultation with regulatory agencies and what's the value added to environmental protection by conducting even a review on a resurfacing project, or another project in
an existing right of way, where a transportation facility already exists. do we have to study and document things over and over and over again and just pile up paper? >> i know we've been making progress on making greater use of categorical exclusions to expedite projects, and i think you're going to see some good news occurring there over the next several months. more generally, the work of map 21 did some very important things to give the department tools to make greater use of categorical exclusions. but in addition to that we have begun to take a look at the state review processes, and if we are redundant and essentially the same standards
the federal review would be, we've begun allowing some states to substitute their state review processes for the federal review processes, and texas has just gone through that process. we are working to expedite where we can. i want to emphasize that i think that through a new bill, congress could give us additional tools to enable us to operationalize concurrent reviews. and again, i think you get perhaps even better environmental outcomes by doing it that way, because the environmental considerations get brought up early and dealt with early. >> i would be very happy to work with you on those with my office especial so will we can stop the redundancy that i believe is happening f. we can move on to tiger grants. do you think they're being distributed in an equal manner? i know that when we look at
rural america, open country, small towns, it seems that we're not getting really tiger funds in those areas. can you tell me why that would be? >> well, a couple of points. the tiger program requires a minimum of 20% of each round to be distributed into rural america. >> the definition of rural america at that point is? >> i would have to have my staff confirm this, but i believe it is a community of 50,000 or fewer people. >> i'm talking about very sparsely populated areas, where in many cases there's one person per square mile, but yet in a state like nebraska, we have miles and miles of roads that are necessary for commerce, for safety. i would think we could look at maybe a new definition of rural
america. >> you know, we are following the statutory definition, but if there's a new definition, we will follow what this congress tells us. what i would say is we exceed that had 20% minimum. we think of it as a floor, but not a ceiling. and we are looking constantly to make sure that we see good transportational projects across the country wherever they happen to come from. secondly, we have done more outreach to extend technical assistance to rural communities, because in some cases it is the communities that have fewer tools, aren't able to hire fancy consultants to help prepare their applications that sometimes don't get through, and so we want to make sure we're being as equitable as possible from that standpoint. we will continue to work with you and others, but i also want to applaud nebraska for omaha's tiger grant this last round for a bus rapid transit system.
>> it was great. thank you very much. senator booker? >> you're one of the best we have, and i say that with no particular bias. i'm a fellow former mayor. i just to want thank you for your numerous trips to new jersey and your partnership on very important projects. as you know, new jersey is the most densely populated state in america. it's home to the most freight quarter in this country. it's home to the busiest airspace in this country. it has the third busiest sea port in the united states. we have 6,500 bridges and nearly 1,000 miles of freight rail.
new jersey is a transportation hub that really drives our economy. i don't want to restate anything that has been said already in terms of the importance of moving a long-term funding mechanism forward, but i want, for the record ask you some questions which are obvious but important. first and foremost, delays actually cost the taxpayer more money. in other words, it will drive the expense of the transportation deficit even higher. so in other words, all of the fiscal conservatives in that and i include myself having been a mayor and you yourself having to be fiscally conservative, we are delayed in our lack of funding, our short-term actions actually are driving more costs to tax payers in the long run is that
correct? >> absolutely. we estimate on a state by state basis the cost of poor infrastructure on our roadways. in most cases, the amount people are paying into the trust fund, for instance, is less than the cost they're expensing as a result of poor road conditions, having it be having to buy new tires or get a new axel fixed or the cost of gasoline or whatever. folks are paying more than they're getting. >> right, and so it is the height of your responsibility from just a dollar sense, balance sheet analysis for us to do nothing more short term fixes, not just for the public treasury are you. but as you said already motorists in my state on some estimates are spending over $2,000 a year.
also with their own dollars out of their pockets, their own dollars for direct payments because of repairs to their cars congestion, lost productivity because you're sitting in traffic really, our inaction in congress is making people pay twice. >> yes, the thing that -- money is one thing but time is something none of us can create more of. when folks are spending 40 hours more in traffic, that's time they don't get back. that's a soccer game or a work hour or whatever. i think in the country, we have stopped thinking about our transportation system is something that gets us there fast. we pay now or much more later. the last thing to comment on is
one of my colleagues did something that many people might think is radical. can you just give your opinion on that, knowing that our deficit or investment is far more than a trillion dollars, how do you view senator sanders' call for the trillion dollar investment? >> it's a bold step. it's a bold step and a statement about where we are as a country. we need to invest more. to your further point, what happens if we don't? we're going pay probably more anyway on an individual basis. we're going to lose opportunities to bring jobs to this country. in the transportation sector, only about 12% of folks that work in transportation have
college degrees, and so you look at that versus the long-term unemployed, this is also a jobs issue. so we are not capturing opportunities as a country because we're not investing as we should. so i think it is very, very important, and i applaud senator sanders for taking a bold step and actually talking about the needs we actually have. thank you, senator booker. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you, mr. secretary, for being here with us today. i was able to meet you first when i was over on the transportation committee on the house side, and i was also on the conference committee with a ranking member when we did a lot of steamlining of the environmental permitting for projects, and i'm glad to know it's moving along. i understand there's things still yet to be done, so i
appreciate that effort. also, i would tell my colleagues, senator fisher, that west virginia community is a town of brandon was a recipient of two tiger grants for economic development, and we're very appreciative to that. they've been very innovative with that, and i think it's going to really grow that local and regional economy. i'm very appreciative, because we were the beneficiary of that. you know, the big question is how do we afford all this? we know that's sort of the elephant in the room and what we're all trying to struggle with. i would ask you in the public-private partnership arena, are you finding across the country that states and local communities and business entities are really stepping up for this public-private
partnership. i mean, we see some of this in west virginia, end how that's going nationally and what your perspective is on that, because i notice in your -- in your written comments, you talk about expanding the opportunities. >> thank you very much. we see a lot of promise, and there's really clear examples just in the last few months of ones we've been able to move forward, one of which that comes to mind is in pennsylvania where there were 500 some odd bridges the state of pennsylvania needed to update. many of them were deficient. not one of those bridges by themselves, by itself would necessarily attract private capital. but though pulled those bridge projects together, and we were able to issue $1.2 billion in private activity bonds to support getting all of those bridges done. we're looking at creative ways
to move forward. having said that, i think we've got some problems that i want to be very clear about. number one this issue of the effect of short-term measures has hurt us as a country because it's hurt our planning process. states and local government that is haven't had the luxury of counting on federal support over a long-term period have pulled back on their planning, and so the big projects that are most likely to attract large-scale private capital in many cases aren't actually being planned, they're not going through the review process. they're not teed up to rapidly move into a private-public partnership. the second thing is they're relatively piped. tifea works through some agencies within d.o.t., but not all. r.i.f. works through the federal railway administration. we work through the office of policy.
we think one of the things additional policy could do is help us pull those resources together so we could have a dedicated team to really focus on public-private partnership. >> thank you for that. i share your frustration in west virginia. we had state transportation day because the legislature has come in. there's a lot of frustration at the local level and the state government level about the inability here for us to do a long-term highway bill. i'm certainly committed to that. and i think what happens and where the frustration comes in is you end up really doing may not dance. you don't do anything innovative. you don't do anything that is really telling your population we're moving to the next century. we see that in our home state, and i think that's very frustrating to local citizens and people trying to grow the economy statement. i share that frustration. i would join with you to try to
make this work and find the magic formula that we can give the confidence to the state and local folks that we really can get this done. i think there's a great impetus for this, and i look forward to working with you. thank you. >> thank you. >> i know you're working closely together to advance on this legislation and i think that if we do it correctly, we can have a great success this year, and i thank you for your work on it. >> you came up to the station in boston, and we're having
great success there with the help of the government to encourage development in an area that historically has been undeserved, but which has the potential to be explosive in terms of the growth and the use of public transportation. what role do you see that in terms of it being built into the legislation that we're considering? >> well, thank you very much. it's a very exciting project in boston. you know, what's happening in boston and across many of the metro areas around the country is population is starting to concentrate there. if you go to some cities, i was with mayor garcett ni los angeles, and he mentioned that they literally don't have more highways that they can build. they need to integrate transit choices into what they do.
when you start a station like that, it captures the attention of developers. i think the challenge for us is that right now if we look at the amount of money, i think the demand is going to increase substantially over the next several years because of population movements. that's one of the reasons why i would urge a more robust transportation and secondly urge that we do more to partner with local communities, whether it's m.p.o.'s or mayors or even governors in some cases to help them develop the tools to utilize the land use communities that come about as a result. >> yeah, you know, boston has 800,000 people who lived there in 1950 and drifted all the way down to about 600,000.
but now we're increasing transit-oriented development, boston has gun back up to 640,000, and the arrow is straight up. in terms of the people who to want move back, use transportation, live closer to all of the amenities of a city, but also the jobs that are being created around the transit project, which then has reduced, as you know, the number of vehicle miles driven by automobiles all across the country over the last five or six years. it's just going down and down and down, because people want to live and work closer to their mode of transportation, and increasingly it's public transportation. so thank you for all of your work on that. could i talk about the complete streets program as well that i also find to be very exciting, where pedestrians bikers, children seniors everyone is included in kind of a project
approach that ensures that all of these facilities can be used by everyone. can you talk a little bit about that, and again, the role that congress can play in the authorization in partnership with the department of transportation. >> through our transportation alternatives program, we've been able to be a bit of a catalyst in helping communities develop best practices around the greater use of complete streets, and what that really means is creating ways in which all users on a roadway to safely use those facilities. so you'll have places for pedestrians that are safe and bicyclists as well. we found it not only helps with safety, but people actually useless the entire roadway in different ways. it's healthier cleaner in some cases. i think that continuing to support the transportation alternatives program and
helping us build additional tools to support states as they measure safety of bicyclists and pedestrians and really bring in bicycling pedestrian up to a standard that we expect of every other mode of transportation. right now we're seeing a lot of pedestrians who are killed, are killed in urban areas. the more we can work together to reduce those numbers and maybe the street safe for everyone, i think the better off we're going to be, and i'm looking forward to working with you. i think it's a very exciting area, and by the way, knowing you're just doing a fantastic job. i think you understand cities, having been a mayor, and i appreciate the work you do. >> thank you, senator. >> thank you. recognize now the first introduction on this committee
and how delighted we are to have him serving on the committee. >> thank you mr. chairman. mr. secretary, thanks for the opportunity to visit with you just a little bit today. coming from south dakota, it strikes me that we're n our home state, we're between 800,000 to 900,000, except during the time. sturgis rally, then we bump up considerably. it seems that as a former mayor of boston, the discussion there in terms of you having the opportunity to work on transportation projects from a different point of view, a large metropolitan area, and yet one in which you're dealing with the federal guidelines and rules that are required in order to qualify for federal funding. in south dakota, we have similar challenges, but on an agricultural basis and a rural area basis. just curious as to your thoughts with regards to the projects that, as you've
indicated earlier in your statements and so forth, that it will be modernized, and we have to be more efficient if we're going to expect taxpayers to put more dollars in at some point in the future. how do you move forward from the federal side now when you're working with communities large and small states large and small differing expectations in terms of a quality and yet at the same time the need for modernization of different projects. what do we do to convince and gain the confidence of the individual taxpayers who look at a federal operation here that under traditional operations take a huge amount of time just to get a project ready to go, approved and then actually build? what do we do to convince them that we have modern ways and more efficient ways to actually deliver those projects in a timely basis?
have you got some ideas? would you share with us a little bit your thoughts in terms behalf we can do to actually deliver in a smple way of saying it more bang for the buck when it comes to the dollars that we're going to be expected to invest in order to maintain the infrastructure today? >> there's another idea that i haven't mentioned that i think is worthy, but essentially i think we can greatly accelerate the delivery of projects, speeding them up by having more concurrent reviews occurring at the federal level. i would also urge greeting tools that incentivize states to do the same thing, because sometimes the delays that occur are not just federal delays, sometimes they're state reviews that have to take additional time and giving the states more tools to be able to accelerate is also useful. in addition to that, there's a
qurky thing in the federal government when it comes to multimodal projects, ones that involve potentially highways or rail or transit, and that is that the reviews are sometimes they require desperate reviews. even within our department on a project with different modes involved sometimes we have to have two different sets of reviews that occur and it doesn't make sense to me that we do that. it's a requirement that i think can be fixed by legislation. i think cleaning some of that would be useful, and it would also allow us to move forward without compromising the environment and ensuring project sbeg r. the other thing that i would say is that i think the public has gotten used to a deteriorating system, and i would urge that if you give us the tools to speed up
projects, which i would urge in the way i just discussed, that we also look hard at making sure that we have the resources to make the kind of impact on folks' commutes and their ability to get goods from farm to market or whatever, and make sure that this counts. if you're going to go through the brain damage of trying figure out how to get it done, make it count for america and make it so people actually see it and feel t. because i think another part of the bang for the buck issue is that if we are essentially managing a declining system, folks are also going to lose confidence, even if we speed up projects. >> thank you. thank you for all the steady hand and detailed presentation and the points that you're hitting on certainly resonate in oregon regarding movement of freight, urban transit
innovative finance, support of transportation for manufacturing, the connection between rural communities and markets, all of these. so well done, and thank you for coming out to oregon to take a look at our crossing that certainly the federal government was a huge partner in and the network of light rail and street cars and rapid bus transit that is being utilized you've tried to address some of those job to work or home to work challenges the last time that my colleague from new jersey was talking about, something that's really struck and he certainly resonated in my halls across oregon is the low percent of our g.d.p. that we're investing in infrastructure, and i think that's just a point worth reiterating. the numbers i have generally
seen, but i have a feeling you have better, more detailed insights on this, is that the u.s. is now spending less than 2% of our g.d.p. on infra trurkt, that china is spending 10%, and i was struck in two trips to china watching beijing going from being basically a bicycle city to having a bullet train running 200 miles per hour and to be on that bullet train was more the surreal experiences of my life given what i had seen just a decade previous. massive changes due to a huge commitment to infrastructure. are those numbers in the ballpark, and how does that reflect on the difference between the foundation we are building for the economy of the next generation and what our competitors are doing. >> it's a great question. those numbers are in the ballpark.
here's several challenges, some of which you pointed out. one is we can pick and choose what we've done from our system and figuring out which of those things they're going to engage in whether it's rail or highways or ports or whatever. and improving upon what we've done. it then becomes a matter of, if we are a manufacturer, if you can get things from shop to port faster someplace else, it creates a competitive disadvantage for us. so one thing is that the rest of the world looked at what we've done and they're building new stuff that in some cases is better than ours.
we have two things that we built a long time ago that need to be fixed up. and both of those problems create a huge challenge for this country. the third issue that we have is that it mentioned this before but i think that we've allowed our system to be stove piped and the reality is that if we're going to improve our ports, we need to improve our road systems and our bridges and our rail systems. we're going to do all that we need to also make sure that we are taking care of our intercoastal waterways and ensuring the free movement there. our system is a system of systems, but we can't starve it and expect it to perform for us. to your point, we're underinvesting. >> thank you very much.
>> thanks. i want to talk about the spirit in which you approach this work. it's an inspiration to me and i think to all of us, and i hope an example to our colleagues in the senate and to the house. mr. secretary, a lot of nice things have been said about you this morning, some are really over the top. you worked with the mayor of charlotte, boston, i don't know what else you have in your background, but there's no such thing as flattery won't hurt you if you don't inhale, so nice thing to say about you, just don't breathe too deeply and you'll be fine. one of the major takeways for me from the election is one, people want to us work together, and senator boxer was brought to these proceedings, i
think that's what the folks are looking for across the country. they want to us get something done something real done, want just talk about it, not just bemoan the fact we're having a hard time getting things done. the other thing is to further strengthen our economic recovery, which is almost at six years and starting to move well. there's still a good deal that needs to be done, but one of the best things we can do, a lot of people are sitting on the sidelines and would like to do construction work. i understand it will put a lot of people back to work, including those who haven't worked for a while. the other thing is there are a number of studies that have talked about and computed what would happen to the gross domestic product if we actual duly a robust transportation plan for america.
it's like between 1% and 1.5% in g.d.p. growth. i think the senator used the terms the 800-pound gorilla in the room and i would -- by back to there is an 800-pound gorilla in the room, and it's our unwillingness to pay for things that we want or pay for things that we need. this includes generating electricity from gas from coal, from solar and other sources. what we need is a all the above approach in terms of providing transportation funding not just financing. there's a lot of ways to finance stuff. it basically means we're borrowing money. we need to fund it as well. but there's room for that. there's probably room for that. repatriation could be helpful, especially for getting one-time
projects, i think, for example the tunnel i came through and down the northeast corridor this morning was built in the civil war. that's an example of a one-time project that needs a lot of money to be funded by something like repatriation. we have interesting experiments very slowly advancing, but oregon is a good example. all those were available. but the idea that we've not talked about is user fees. we have paid for our transportation and infrastructure for years through user fees. we know it was adopted in 21 years ago, worth about a dime. and meanwhile, the price of asphalt, concrete, steal, labor, they've all gone up and we need something like -- we talk about base load for energy, coal, nuclear, we need some base load here for
transportation funding. there's bipartisan legislation in the house and senate probably next month that would raise that user fee to gather tax. it would be a real infrastructure investment. and on top of that, we still need to do a lot more. those other items would be very helpful. you and i have had good conversations, and some of my republican colleagues have talked about, why don't we just offset an increase in user fee by reducing personal income taxes for low income people or others? the problem with doing that, we have a $480 billion budget deficit. reducing tacks would make it bigger. one of the things that we talked about is finding savings with the way that we do, by the way we do transportation projects.
just talk about two or three and what we can do to help. >> well, i think the project delivery work is an opportunity done right in a way that doesn't compromise the environment. i think it can be done very well. and it would save money and not just money at the federal level, actually would work down stream at the state and local levels as well. in addition to that, i think in terms of saving money, i think the more we worked to accelerate projects that move through the system at any given point, whether it's design environmental review, or even as we work on becoming better with innovative financing tools like private equity bonds and so forth those are places where i think we can also stand
to accelerate and get projects done a little faster. we worked very hard to make the program move better and faster. i think that's been a success, but r.e.f. still needs some help, and i think the private activity bonds could use some as well, and we'll continue working on those things. >> i would like us to be real partners in this. i hope we can phase it in over several years modest, but real, and find ways to offset the increased user fees through savings. they actually do -- not the way the greats are in there, not interested in going there, but help us to find this. thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you very much for being with us. in your statement you talked
about must expedite high-priority projects, and i agree. in wyoming we have high-priority projects which can be as small as replacing a single ladies and gentlemen bridge, as big as replacing a segment of interstate 80. could i ask to you please share how your recommendations on expediting project delivery are going to benefit rural states like wyoming. >> we would like to operate the more concurrent process. it's not just some of the high-profile big dollar projects, but it can be more on a routine basis for virtually all projects. and i think working with congress to develop those tools again to do it in a way that is environmentally sensitive, i think we can get that done and actually move the ball forward a good bit. >> in light of the fact we have a number of governors standing by i'll defer. >> thank you.
>> thank you so much, mr. chairman, and ranking member for holding this hearing. this is an incredibly important issue for new york state. mass transit is critical to the economic viability of want only new york, but every state in the country. on an average weekday, nearly 8.5 million americans ride the trains, subways and buses in new york city, which generate significant economic revenue. would you agree that it is critically important for mass transit to continue to receive designated funding through the mass transit account of the highway trust fund? can you discuss some of the negative impacts to our national economy and to regional economies across the country if congress were to cut funding for public transit? >> well, absolutely i agree that we need to maintain resources for mass transit. it is vitally important in the state of new york and many other parts of the country. there's also a very substantial rural transit program that we have that is also vital to many rural communities as well.
if congress were to eliminate that funding what would happen is that our roadways in high-use areas of the country would become inundated with traffic and freight movements and commutes would actually stall, and that would be a disaster for the country. what we really need is a nation that moves more towards multimodal movement and one in which the users have choice, and the more choices they have, potentially you get more cars off the road and that enables more band width for trucks and other commercial activities to occur. if we lose the transit piece, i think we end up creating other problems. >> super storm sandy affected
nearly 8.5 million public transit riders 4.2 million drivers, and one millionaire travelers, but nearly two years after sandy, new york city has not only worked to repair and restore its transportation infrastructure from the storm's damage, but is also taking steps to resiliency of its transit network. however, there's much more work to be done. can you speak to some of the challenges with regard to constructing a more resilient transportation network? what has been effective so far, and what policies will be most help to feel ensure the d.o.t., as well as state and local governments have the tools they need to plan for future extreme weather. >> this is another very important topic, and it's one that cuts across many of the department's programs, whether they're highway rail, transit, mary time, etc. we learned a lot when we got involved with the hurricane sandy recovery we're trying to
build into more of our routines routine, resilient construction. so for instance, we found in the subways in new york where the electrical wires had been under the trains, putting them above the trains and encasing them in a thicker material would provide more resilience. these best practices aren't being left in the northeast. we're actually trying to, you know, see those get implemented in other parts of the country so that we're building more resiliently going forward. having said that, one of the challenges we're going to keep running into is we're underinvesting in our infrastructure overall n. terms of building a more resilient america, the less funding we have available, the less we're going to be able to make an impact.
>> improving pedestrian safety is a critical issue in new york and one that local leaders in my state are working very hard to address whether it's mission zero in new york city or projects to improve sidewalks and cross walks in upstate new york, building pedestrian infrastructure into how we decide our street saves lives. as this committee works to reauthorize map 21 we should make sure that we continue to invest in critical safety programs to protect the safety of pedestrians, including children and the elderly, people with disabilities. what would be the implications of failing to adequately address it at the federal level? >> it's an incredibly important question senator. between 2009 and 2013, we actually saw an up tick in pedestrian and bicycle deaths as well as accidents, and it's one of the few areas in our entire department where we're actually seeing that up tick. we have to attack this as a country and use a multitiered
strategy. our alternatives program, which provides resources to help support bicycle and pedestrian programs has been useful. we've also made significant investments through tiger to help promote best practices, including new york city's mission zero program. and finally, we're working with mayors across the country now to encourage them towards best practices and information sharing, because a lot of the capital expenditure for road assets across the country are at the local level. >> thank you. we're really going to enjoy this ride with you, and i think you're the right guy at the most difficult time, and we'll make this happen together. thank you for your service. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, ranking member boxer. >> i'd like to ask the second panel to come in. i believe they're all in the room.
our first introducer will be senator sessions. he's trying to get to another committee hearing. our witnesses please come in. >> mr. chairman, we are trying to get busy today. we will have the major committees going on. >> on top of that, something like 16 votes. we're going to be busy. at this time, i would like to
welcome our panel. we have had a little bit to of illness that has changed the makeup of the committee. i would like to introduce for introductory purposes senator sessions. >>'s, thank you. i am pleased to introduce senator bentley, robert bentley. it is a practicing physician. it is rumored he graduated at the top of his class. i would not be surprised. i am sure that is accurate. he served in the air force. he made job creation the priority with aerospace and manufacturing industries. it is showing some real growth. he is vice president of the commerce committee of the governors association. his great understanding of fiscal challenges facing our state, he was just reelected.
he has had to make some road decisions -- rural decisions affecting our state. he has been leading a host of efforts to streamline and reduce unnecessary costs in spending. governor bentley, thank you for coming. it has been a pleasure for me to work with you. i have the highest respect for you. i will say this, mr. chairman, i do not think i will be able to participate in the questioning. i hope to get back. i share your view and to that of senator boxer that we need a highly planned we can pass that is soundly financed and paid for that allows our governors to relax on the future so they can plan for the future. it is costing money reducing
the value of the money was spent because of the uncertainty that is up there. even though you know i am a frugal budget person, somehow we need to make this work. i will try to be positive in that regard. thank you for your leadership and thank you for inviting governor bentley. >> thank you for that fine introduction. i believe i met your guest when i was up in south dakota. >> that is entirely possible, mr. chairman. my opportunity of the day is to introduce the secretary of the department of transportation in south dakota. i have known him for years and i had the opportunity to appoint him a secretary of transportation when i was governor. i can share with all of you, he has seen the ins and outs and challenges of trying to work with limited funding in a rural
state in which there is always a challenge in terms of how you take the dollars and spread them out in literarily delivered the best you can. you come back to a legislative body that is always questioning how you spend money. if i could, i want to share with you in south dakota we have challenges like everyone else. it is a rural state. 200 miles up and down, 400 miles east and west. 91% of the straight has -- of the state has structurally-deficient bridges. we need to manage our highly and bridges. -- our highways and bridges. i can share with you that to i look forward to working with the other members on this committee and with you, mr. chairman and ranking chairman bubba boxer.
we need a highway bill, one that delivers highway transportation needs across the entire united states. i hope we find an appropriate way to fund it on a longer-term leases. we recognize we have got to do this as efficiently as we can. that means cutting through asthma 28th as we can. something else is we work through this in a positive way rural in durban areas recognizing that our needs are truly different in many cases. we have to find a way to keep all of us in the same game and recognize the needs of both the urban and rural in this methodology. >> thank you for that fine introduction. senator sanders. >> thank you very much.
i apologize for not being here earlier, i was in another committee. thank you for inviting the governor of vermont to be with us today. i think everyone on this committee understands that to our infrastructure is in many ways collapsing. we used to lead the world in terms of infrastructure. in terms of the world economic forum we are now in 12th base. that is nothing that to anyone on this committee should be proud of. in vermont, we have the same problems that everyone else has. potholes congestion, bridges that are in disrepair. some years ago we were hit with hurricane irene. devastation to our infrastructure. we worked very hard to rebuild that infrastructure.
i appreciate your efforts, mr. chairman, and working with senator boxer. there is a lot of division in the congress today. i hope on this issue there is a common understanding where doing our kids and grandchildren a great disservice if we do not own up to the infrastructure problems we have today. mr. chairman, thank you very much. >> thank you senator. let me make this comment. we're very proud to have all of you here. we had some illness of the four panel is not here. but i appreciate very much your coming. i believe when i look at this politically it is going to be necessary to have a lot of pressure -- a lot of pressure from the states in order to get the support necessary to get this through. it is going to be heavy lifting. we know you guys are available in and able to do that. we'll start with opening statements.
governor utley will be recognized first. >> thank you sir. good morning. it is a pleasure for me to be with you. i appreciate senator sessions great introduction of me. he is a good friend. i appreciate all the members of this committee. i am here on behalf of the national governors association and the people of alabama. evernote tomlin and i are on the national government -- national governors economic commerce committee. we served together on a bipartisan basis. all of the governors of the states have basically the same problems mentioned today. i am here today to highlight some of these problems and some of the situations. the first priority, when we look at priorities, is really to continue to maintain a strong
partnership between the federal government to the state governments. there are selective projects across this country that are of national and regional significance. the states and the regional government can partner to benefit our entire country. one such project is in alabama. it is our mobile river bridge, also known as the i-10 bridge. senator sessions knows this very well. this is a project that reduces congestion in the tunnels that helps with the growth of our great city, mobile. this is a major project we need to be working on. one of the second priorities that we need to be looking at is long-term funding, which has already been mentioned. funding certainty at the federal level is essential for planning for future projects.
we as governors are ceos of the states. we understand how important transportation infrastructure is to creating jobs in our states. certainty allows governors the abilities to plan and execute long-term multiyear transportation projects. since i took office in 2011 we have recruited new and future jobs for the state of alabama" infrastructure is a key part of the environment that is needed to create the jobs in our state. in alabama we are witnessing firsthand the successful partnership of job creation and infrastructure improvement. the first week of my first term of office i met and concluded a company, golden dragon copper tubing cut a tumor :00's county, the county with the highest unemployment rate in the state of alabama. this new facility will employ 300 people and not only will it
change this community, but it will change those families that live there and it will change the way of life. the state gave $7 million of construction money to build roads to this plan. it will make a difference in the lives of the people of that area. the third thing that i would like to mention is the flexibility that we need in federal dollars. the earmarking of enteral dollars hurts the ability of governors to allocate bonds within our states. i want to share also in my testimony, very quickly, i want to share a program that i have been -- that i have started that is an innovative program that we've started in alabama. it is something we called the a-trip program. we have led a billion dollars to
repair the roads and bridges of every county in alabama. we use it bonds to do this. we have been able to borrow these at a very low interest rate. the fact that we have ourselves used our gasoline money to back these bonds, we have been able to save 35 more million dollars. every county in the state of alabama, 67 counties, will receive projects. the least any county will receive is $6.6 million. this spring, congress will have the opportunity to set a new vision for infrastructure in america. as a country might we must show that if we are serious about our economy we must get serious about investing in our roads and bridges. governors, urge congress to pass a long-term transportation bill that provides the certainty needed to plan for future
projects and the flexibility needed to tailor those projects to the unique challenges that face each state. avatars look forward to working with you, congress. and to -- governors look forward to working with you. i thank you for the opportunity to testify before you. >> thank you so much chairman. i really appreciate you are inviting us down to ranking member senator boxer. thank you for hearing us out. do the entire committee, thank you for the introduction. it is an honor to be here. i am honored to be here with governor bentley on behalf of the nga. we have worked together on opiate addictions, and i think i say it right when i say we want to partner with you to get this
job done. our ability to improve quality of life depends upon fixing our crumbling and aging infrastructure. i know that i am looking forward to hearing from secretary circle it's as well. i know that'tis governor wished to be here. we got waxed pretty hard in the northeast with the snowstorm. our governor would be here if he were not digging out. in vermont we got hit two. but our southern states are not as a custom to snow as we are in vermont, so he is still digging. i should say that -- >> that is the deep south to. [laughter] >> i'm going to paraphrase
because i know governor bentley just sent my message for me. we know that we cannot prosper as a nation unless we pick what senator stander -- sanders referred to. we used to be number one. i want you to know on the ground, as a governor what this means to a small rural state. what it means to a rural state is not that much different than what it means to idaho or north dakota or new hampshire. our challenge in smaller rural states is that we sometimes forget that our transportation network, 80%, small road and thousands and thousands of bridges run through rural states. if you take from on as an example, when you talk about crumbling infrastructure you could say vermont does not have that many people so why does it
matter to the economy. it matters not only to vermont but we have as an example that to many states are in the same boat bordering canada. we are the transportation conduit to our biggest trading partner, canada. projections going forward it are that in the next decades we will see our freight transportation increase. we have a crumbling infrastructure right now. in terms of jobs and prosperity, the rural states carry a bigger burden because we have more to maintain and we all know that infrastructure is crumbling and it has got to be rebuilt. i want to make the point that when you look to this challenge of reauthorizing the transportation trust fund it is important to remember the rural states have a special word in. the northeast states have an increased burden as well.
if you look at what we are facing together, we are dealing with a much shortened construction season. we obviously have freezing and thawing that takes an extraordinary toll on our pavement and bridges. we have to throw salt around like there is no end to it which is terrible for steel which is critical to bridges. it does not help movement out much either. the colder states, i would argue, but all of the world states are in this together. -- rural states are in this together. i want to say in addition to the rural state challenges, i want to say a word about the funding and what it means for those of us in the challenge as we are
losing our battle. governor just made reference to it. what happens to a governor like me is that when there is uncertainty about funding, or when you are literally unable to send a match back to the states, we are in a terrible situation of having to dig for cash we did not rank we would need or turning to contractors and saying we could not do the work because we cannot pay the bill. this is the reality for governors across america. we have to remember when we talk about getting this done, and we know me as the dropdead date, in my case next month we will start with contracts. in states like vermont or north east, your paving and building season runs from mid-april if
you are lucky to mid-may or october. you cannot make pavement below 32 degrees, as you know. those are the challenges we faced together. timing and funding. i want to make a comment about funding. sometimes there is the perception that states can go it alone. they can figure it out without the partnership of the federal government. i want to remind us that small states do not have the options for funding that some of the larger states have. i go across the george washington bridge with your easy pass and i dream of having that kind of volume and passage to get over a bridge. we're often asked when we hit our transportation challenges, why don't you do tolls in vermont? we do not have enough people to pay. it would not be a great proposition for us in the studies we have done. so let's remember while small
states of more miles and bridges to maintain, we have smaller ending sources to do it. i really appreciate the opportunity to be before you today. we would love to answer any questions you have. i would like to make for quick recommendations. >> i am afraid we cannot do that. >> all right. >> make you for your presentation. secretary berkowitz. >> thank you. i appreciate the opportunity to be here in front of this committee. governor do guard really wanted to be hurt himself to tell you our story because he understands and appreciates the importance of strong transportation investment to our state. he senses regrets. on his behalf i would like to highlight a few keep points of his written statement. first of all, we thank you for
holding this hearing early in this congress. this tells us the committee appreciates prompt action to pass good legislation that will benefit the nation. the nation needs strong transportation funding and long-term transportation stability for the transportation program in order to strengthen the economy and the nation. we believe the transportation system should continue to deliver and further simplify regulations and program regulations, providing states with additional viability to meet their needs. a rural state like south dakota is far from population centers but our contributions are important to the national economy. set up the code a is the source of recreational opportunities that help the nation.
we connect cities like chicago to the west coast. we inhale agriculture and other goods to move to national and world markets and allow people to visit great laces like mount rushmore and other attractions. [inaudible] with -- i want to emphasize the need for transportation investment is apparent and states are taking action. just this week, a proposal was introduced that would significantly increase transportation investment and south dakota. states cannot do it alone. we need a strong federal program. large world states like south dakota have very few people to support each mile of highway and
maintain our portion of the national highway system. the rural population of 7 million is expected to grow by 70 million a year. 60% of the truck traffic is through commerce, meaning it does not originate in or have a destination in our state, but it certainly serves the nation. we would like to encourage you mr. chairman, to do what you can to simplify the transportation program and make it more flexible. we know there are necessarily must be some requirements for the federal program, but this is an area where with the public interest, less is more. one proposal is that states collect multiple data items. this includes gravel and other roads. we urge the congress to simplify
the program where it can, so that program dollars can invest more dollars in projects that improve our system. strong stable federal funding will help states provide the transportation system the nation needs. congress should continue to distribute the vast majority finds by formula and of course service transportation legislation must continue to recognize its significant investment in rural areas like ours is in the national interest. thank you for the opportunity. >> thank you. the chair will take the prerogative and start. we recognize mr. bentley at this time to respond to questions. i would only make this one comment, governor bentley. you talk about certainty.
this is always a problem you have when you're dealing with government. right now, there is the uncertainty of all of these regulations creating hardships on people. is there anything you would like to elaborate concerning the certainty issue that you have expanded on. >> certainty is the most important thing we asking for on a state level. if we have the certainty whatever that certainty is we can deal with it. it is so difficult for us as a state to not know whether or not we will get funding. if this ends in may, which is supposedly well, it makes it difficult for all of us. one thing i have been in place and talked about is that we put a billion dollars into the repair of our roads and bridges. we need to repair what we have. we cannot just told new roads
and bridges. after repair what we have and make sure it is functional. we have borrowed $1 billion at a low rate as we have such a high bond rating in alabama. but we need $69 million every year to pay off those bonds over the next 18 or 19 years. so, we need certainty. whatever that certainty is. whatever the government can how buzz with. we appreciate that partnership. it is a partnership. all states connect. it is a partnership. the certainty to me as the most important thing. >> very good. senator boxer? >> thank you. i want to thank our panel. i want to make a quick point. i am for simplification and flexibility. i came a long way on that point. we do have to protect taxpayers
here. for me, i want to make sure i am protecting taxpayers. keep that in mind. we have to find that sweet spot. it may look different to you then through my eyes. we will work together on this. thank you. i know how hard it is to get here and to take you away from your states. governor bentley i was so interested in your alabama transportation rehabilitation improvement program because it is a $1 billion program. the reason you can't do it is you are counting on future federal dollars so you have the bonds. is that correct? >> guess. >> so, -- >> yes. >> so, because your point about the certainty is so key, i would
like to in your very eloquent way explained to us why certainty is so critical and if you did not have the certainty of this federal bill, how it could impact you back home. i know it is repetitious but it is important. >> again, let me say i think certainty is the most important thing we have to deal with. over the last five or six years we have not had that certainty obviously. so, we needed. if we do not have a 5, 6, 10 your plan, whatever the number of years you decide, we just need to know what those are. we need to plan accordingly. this program i have put in place and was able to put in place without legislation, because the people of alabama had allowed us to borrow the bonds.
we are using future federal dollars. so the certainty is so important for me because i have signed a billion dollars in bonds and i want to make sure we pay it that. we cannot pay it back in two ways. if the federal government will continue to give a certainty about what they are going to give the states, plus the fact that we cannot do it better because in alabama we have such a great bond rating. we have a better bond rating than the federal government. we are able to borrow this money at such a low rate. certainly lower they and it the inflation rate for delaying the repairs. so certainty is important to us. >> i know we speak for both of her nurse here. my last question is, it is interesting to learn about the i-10 bridge logic. you noted there are some
projects of national and regional significance that to our to large to be funded without federal assistance. do you believe the government to allow these projects to compete against one another would be -- >> i would rather have them compete than not have it at all. >> i hear you. >> i think competition is always good. i am not speaking for the federal government because i won the state of alabama, but i think you do have to look at what is the most important for our security. for our economy. for our safety. all of those things you have to look at when you look at these types of projects outside of the normal funding stream. >> thank you so much. >> thank you, senator boxer. senator bozeman?
>> thank you mr. chairman and thank you all for being here. can you tell us the impact of the two-year bill versus the five-year bill? what that does for certainty? the necessity of the five year bill versus the two-year bill. the other thing i would like you to think about come along with that is one of the frustrations you have is that we were number one in infrastructure. if you look that could we were number one, probably the percentage of what he states were doing was more then it is now as opposed to what the feds are doing. i think one of the frustrations we have as we put money into the state is because of the fiscal constraints of the states with things like prisons and medicaid and education and things like that, the states have a tendency sometimes to shrink back and things stay the same as opposed to increasing. you mentioned about your small
state of arkansas. to our credit, we passed it a half cent sales tax to try to overcome the problems that you have. i wish it would make my life and other commuters a lot easier but comment on a two year and a five-year and also how do we ensure as we are trying to do the best we can do that is an improvement versus the state shrinking back. >> in terms of the two to five the more certainty you can give us the better. governor bentley and i served in an environment where we would love to have to because we have been working month-to-month
since we have been governor. we have both been governors for four-year so the more certainty you can give us a longer period of time the happier all governors will be in particularly in a situation when you're dealing with garvey bonds. governor bentley said to wall street we have an ongoing funding source from the feds so i can turn to the folks of alabama and say we have got certainty and we are going to be all right. we needed need it too because obviously they make similar decisions. >> so the tours as the five cost up? not only is the certainty issue but the contracts driving up the cost of the construction projects also. >> absolutely senator. the second piece is in terms of the partnership. my experience has been we have had to increase our state contribution just to keep up with our federal match. what i mean by that is unfortunately the gas tax, not so unfortunately but for good reasons. people are driving less miles of driving more efficient vehicles
but we all know in the long run we will have to figure out another way to drive revenue. we'll have to go to miles traveled or some other way of doing this. having said that in my state as an example we could not keep up with their federal match visit dwindling gas prices without asking for more from vermonters just to meet what we had arctic out in the past. giving up $40 million of federal funding which for me and for me in after transportation budget of $4 million we are talking real money trade having to cancel projects that are critically important as her bridges and roads crumble. what i did and i don't like raising taxes that we raised it from 20 cents to 26 cents. we triggered half of it towards volume and have toured sales so we be able to play the prices that go up and down without where we are now where if gas was cut in half we would have been totally demoralized.
vermonters are making a bigger effort from a tax standpoint to make that federal match then we were in the past. i don't know if vermont is unique but i can tell you we are definitely not backing off in our commitment to rebuild roads and bridges. we have been asking for more from them and i think a lot of governors have. >> one of the challenges with the two-year to the five-year program is due to the length of time it takes to deliver any project of any size once we have the security of having a two-year program by the time we start to deliver the project the program is backed back into a short-term situation. i agree with the governor's comments too some the negative impact of the short-term
month-to-month type of business we are doing now is resulting in not necessarily being able to do optimal treatments to our roads and we are just doing what we can in a short period of time. oftentimes it's a band-aid type fix that may not be the financially best thing to do but the only thing that can be done at the time. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you. senator whitehouse and we are trying to confine her questions. >> thank you chairman. these will certainly beat governor oriented questions. in rhode island and what we are seeing we are saying and if this sounds familiar to governors let me know. we are seeing the federal formula highway funds increasingly subscribe overtime and we are seeing static revenue from that. we are not seeing big federal increases that are funding growth of the highway program. we are also seeing maintenance
costs for the existing infrastructure climbing and that eats into the static federal revenues. we are seeing debt service on our garvey bonds eat a chunk of what would otherwise be going out into roads and bridges and we are seeing uncertainty in the out-years about whether that federal funding is really going to be there. what we get from all of that is a distinction between little projects that you know you can fund that could run for a year or two and you can get it done and that you can fit into the shrinking remaining available portion of our highway budget and the big projects that are transportation officials know are out there, now we have to grapple with someday that there's no slug of money big enough to take them on and if
you are going to spread them out over many years that raises the cost in many cases and also takes you beyond your comfort level of whether the federal funding is going to be there given the uncertainty that has been created by all the fiscal and budget hijinks that have gone on here in washington. what that leaves us with is some big projects that we really have no way to get into our highway program responsibly. is any of that sound familiar to the governor's? i see both heads nodding let the record reflect. what i want to make sure we do in this echoes on the ranking members questions there be a pool of funding for projects that are big and significant and instead of giving them out
because i know a lot of people don't like earmarks of it be a competitive program would at least provide a vehicle for those projects to be brought on line before a big calamity happens a very expensive bridge, a major highway overpass or intersection, things like that a particularly small state budget. does that seem like a sensible notion to you that before these big projects there be a specialized source of funds you could can be poor to get them handled where they can be reached at ordinary funding? >> i personally believe that what he said is exactly what i said in my testimony. there has to be a different stream of funding for those types of projects and they should be competitive. we need to decide their national significance. we need to decide the safety of the area. for instance i mentioned the bridge over the bay in mobile.
we have all the highways coming into one tunnel. we have hazardous material that is transported through that and there are so many things you have to look at. competition is good. i think that you shouldn't have a bridge to nowhere. i personally am against earmarking just for the sake of earmarking for political reasons. i believe that the earmarking should be done for what you are talking about and i believe that i am talking about which is of national and regional significance and you do have to compete in order to get those funds. >> mr. chairman if i could make one final remarks. one of the flaws in the stimulus program that we put together and passed in the depths of the recession was that our rush for a shovel-ready projects meant the only ones we could get into
the pipe were the ones that were already on the books for transportation organizations. so this big ones that are waiting out there which would have been a great opportunity we missed and so that's another reason i think we need to make sure we do this project of national regional significance and i thank the chairman for his courtesy. >> mr. chairman i would yield and say it's refreshing to have governors come in and get that good dose of common sense. we appreciate it. >> at this time we'll excuse you governor bentley i know you have a scheduling problem. thank you very much. governor shumlin i did not mean to be discourteous to you when you were talking that you had four points that you are going to end up which i did not hear since i didn't give you time.
>> i think we covered them. thanks for the opportunity. i would like to respond to the question of competing for large projects and add that i think senator whitehouse is on target. a program like that make sense. i do want to point out the small rural states who have 80% of the highway roads and bridges to maintain often have a tough time competing with big state projects so if you are going to do that some kind of set aside to recognize the difference in scale is important because while we have bigger more miles covered in more bridges on those miles we don't necessarily have the huge individual projects that frankly a heavily populated state would have. >> governor, that's something we are all going to be working on because it is very meaningful. let me just make one comment talking about the earmarks. it's a great misunderstanding
here. this is my observation. one of the few things that does work well with the federal government is the way the highway trust fund is set up in response back to the needs of the state. i think when we did our last particularly the 2005 bill we made an effort to listen to the states recognizing that they know more of what's good for them whether it's alaska or anywhere else than our infinite wisdom here in washington. so i think it's something that has worked well. the problem was they should've used another word when they were messing around with this and we wouldn't be having the problems we are having now. there's a big difference between earmarks and what people think of earmarks and earmarks as they come from the states, from the department of transportation and that's why i think it's great.
hopefully we can address this. and take care of these problems we are talking about right now. that would be kind of fine-tuning it. the problem is we have all those issues out there. a lot of people forget and it always sounds good when you say they should just keep all money in the state. that's fine if you are in a position to do that but if you are from wyoming or south dakota or north dakota you have lots of roads and no people. we are going to address this and try to do this one right. you have covered your four-point? ok that's good. senator whitehouse. >> i will just second the chairman's remarks. i'm actually not an opponent of earmarks. i'm a great fan of my senior senator jack reed who is there appropriator and i would think his judgment about federal money should be spent as a good deal better than the bureaucrats in
the various departments but my point was we don't need to have that fight to have a good portion of this bill. i'm with the chairman on that fight and particularly as it applies to these transportation issues. i think my questions have been adequately issued. i would put on record that we got a full answer from governor boley under the chairman's request. governor shumlin was not -- but didn't have a chance as anything so i offer him a chance if he has any comments to make in addition to otherwise the record is clear that the governors before us are in accord on the subject. >> the only point that i would make that hasn't been made in terms of this conversation generally is when we talk about reinvigorating the trust fund which we all know is created in 1958 has served us well that was
a time we were building infrastructure for the first time in america and it's what made this country great. what made us the most powerful economy in the world. we could not have done without the trust fund and i think governors are united on that. the first covered bridges you are talking about. >> the challenge we face from big picture because sometimes we get into the weeds on how we should allocate the money and i suspect all 50 governors would agree on this one. we have two things facing us. the first is obviously the aging infrastructure and the fact that what we build so effectively in the early 60s across the nation is now crumbling but the other challenge i'm facing out that other governors are facing too is the weather challenges have made the transportation infrastructure more vulnerable than i i believe that was when they build infrastructure. i can tell you is a governor who has served for four years now i have managed three really
devastating storms the toughest stormers vermont has seen in our history. we lost in the tiny state of vermont, we lost hundreds of miles of roads. we lost 34 bridges. we saw infrastructure destroyed not only with irene but two separate significant storms and this was created by just the kind of rain that we have never seen in vermont where we suddenly get these what i call costa rican style deluge as of 10 or 12 inches of rain dumped on our little state in a matter of hours. it didn't used to happen that way so we have to remember we have a crumbling infrastructure, we have a climate that is really putting additional pressure on all the decisions we make about were repaired roads and bridges and suddenly we have flooding challenges in places we have never happened before. >> governor can i jump in on that? there's an interesting statistic that comes out of the national
property casualty insurance industry. if you look at the number of billion-dollar storm and weather disasters the country has had in recent decades in the 1980s every year those billion-dollar disasters numbered zero to five. i was the range of the 1980s. you have none or maybe had as many of five to that was the range. by the 1990s the range was three to nine billion-dollar disasters every year, minimum of three and maximum of nine. by the 2000's the range was two to 11 billion-dollar disasters each year and in the 2010 decade so far it's been six to 16. so the point the governors making about what he is seen in vermont is one we are seeing all across the country add seeing it in rhode island with 100 year storms one after another certainly not 100 years apart in i yield back my time. >> thank you mr. chairman.
i agree with the senator from rhode island when it comes to the issue of who should be making the decisions and i like the idea providing ample opportunity for the states and local governments to make decisions about where the dollar should be spent. i think we should be very liberal when it comes to allowing the states recognizing their ability to make good decisions for their citizens about infrastructure development. i was going to go to secretary bergquist and talk about the common sense things that states do or would like to do it for cited -- provided the opportunity. i think when we talk about additional revenue sources one thing they want us to do is deliver the needed infrastructure needed bridges and roads and everything that comes with it. part of that means making good decisions about how we spend the dollars. sometimes i think good advice is that advice but it shouldn't be
requirements. there should be ample opportunity for states and departments of transportation to make good choices about what they want that infrastructure to look like. i was wondering if the secretary could share the issues of some other red tape was eliminated or the restrictions on those funds could be examined. would you care to comment on that a little bit? >> if i may mr. chairman. two immediate things come to mind senator. one i found with interest your dialogue with secretary fox on the need to further streamline the review process that goes into projects and as a secretary foxx indicated there were improvements made as part of math 21. i would welcome the opportunity to work with the federal highway administration on further refining that process.
i think they're still additional enhancements that can be made to shorten that time period so we don't have the problem that projects take so long to deliver that we can't start construction until there is a two-year or five-year bill. i think that's one of the areas of opportunity and the other area i see as an opportunity and i touched on example of that earlier in my statement is the balance between the funds and resources that you invest in collecting data or reporting and those types of things versus what goes into asphalt and concrete and bridges. i mentioned the case of the potential requirement to gather all the data on our dirt roads which you are very familiar with.
i'm not sure that is the best use of those funds when we have bridges and you mentioned the bridge numbers in south dakota. we have over 1090 to be replaced. that money may be better spent there. >> i think senator your question on efficiency and how we can all work together in user transportation dollars better is right on and i for example did a couple, been successful doing it couple of things on how we spend our dollars. when i became governor found there was a rivalry or lack of communication between my agency of natural resources books in my transportation folks in my transportation folks are ready to build a bridge or a road and they were all fighting and carrying on. it would take years to do anything. we have got to end this. my state offices got flooded in irene so the state offices were
wiped out and destroy. i use that as an opportunity when i re-organized to put them in the same office building and in the same cafeteria and guess what? they found out they like each other and they are working much more effectively together to get the job done. now our rna folks will go out on the ground together and make the decisions on the ground that sometimes took two years at now take three days. so it's a big difference. other piece of technology. governors are embracing it across the country smarter ways to do things and residents are willing if they understand it saves tax dollars to be more patient i will give an example. we have cut the cost of our bridges doping bridges significantly raise things to citizens instead of building a detour bridge which you have to go through permitting it takes forever huge cost and i will bet you anything secretary bergquist is doing the same thing that i have my secretary who could
speak more eloquently about this but we say if you would let us close that bridge for six to eight to 12 weeks we could build that bridge and become with these prefab bridges were literally half of the price and much less time. we are all interested in finding ways to be more efficient and to cut red tape. the state can do it in the feds can do it. together we can use our dollars more effectively. >> senator boozman. >> very quickly mr. chairman following up on senator rounds the committee worked really hard with senator boxer and senator and house leadership in trying to identify things to cut the red tape. the problem is some of those things don't come under her jurisdiction so we can cut red tape here. what i would really like for you
all to do and your comrades is really, but the things you mentioned the problems that we have some times and then also other federal problems that aren't under the jurisdiction of the committee so that we can work with this committee's in the next reauthorization which hopefully will happen very soon. then again make sure that we do that. we have talked about the challenges of getting more money into the system. this is a way to save tremendous amounts of money. so we have examples. i've got to go visit the bridge that fell down and no walking. that thing was rebuilt in a year. that would be a 10 or 20 year project probably but the agencies work together and we didn't have a gotcha attitude. it was, how can we help you get this thing done?
in my state of oklahoma we will list a number of projects. people going out in transportation districts in the state of oklahoma, make there own priorities so that my job is not so much to see what can be done in a state of oklahoma but where the priorities come from the state. people just overlook that. that is one of the systems it does seem to work well. hopefully we will be able to do a good a good job with this bill. any further comments you want to make? >> mr. chair, mr. chair, i want to thank you and the committee members. you have a tough job and it is an incredibly important job. the governors will partner with you in any way that can be useful to get predictability get the trust fund reauthorized
and give a certainty. >> within your states. that is that is so important that we do that. >> absolutely. >> there is another thing that you can do, apply the pressure necessary to our own elected people to let them no what the number one priority is. to use the constitutional argument, that is what we are supposed to be doing. and as i have heard it said many times before people were trying to make comments, it's right down to transportation. i've heard them say -- i wasn't talking about transportation.
so it's something we are going to deal with something that does -- what i would not like to see is have a system change we'd take the states out of the system is you're the your the once you no where the priorities are, what needs to be done, and where your elected officials live. that would be helpful. senator, any further comment? >> chairman, i echo what you are suggesting. >> thank you both very much for being here. appreciate it. we are adjourned. [inaudible conversations] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
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