Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson, left, participated in a national press conference to highlight the bipartisan advocacy effort and important voices of mayors pushing Congress to enact a long-term transportation funding plan.
Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson visited Washington D.C. on May 13 during National Infrastructure Week. In her role as Chair of GMA’s Federal Policy Council and GMA 2nd Vice President, Jackson represented GMA and Georgia cities in meetings with members of Georgia’s delegation and to participate in transportation-related media events coordinated by the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Throughout the week, Jackson and city leaders from across the country called for federal infrastructure investments at press conferences, meetings and briefings on Capitol Hill.
“National Infrastructure Week was an excellent opportunity to talk to some of Georgia’s key federal leaders about the transportation needs of cities,” said Jackson. “Our goal at each meeting was to stress the need for Congress to take immediate action on a long-term transportation bill that provides local officials with the authority to decide how some of those funds can be spent in our communities. City officials are prepared to work with Congress to advance federal legislation that will insure Georgia and its cities will continue to be economically competitive on a national and global level into the future.”
While in D.C., Jackson learned that prior to expiration of MAP-21 on May 31, Congress will most likely approve a short term extension of the current authorization that will be paid for using general funds.
Congress will continue to work on a long-term (6 year) bill that they hope to approve early next year. The big question is still how to pay for transportation needs long-term, as the Highway Trust Fund is expected to run out of funds at the end of July, 2015. One option that has bipartisan support incorporates tax reforms such as repatriation (using revenue from taxing overseas corporate profits) to help fund transportation. Other alternatives are also on the table. A federal gas tax increase, however, does not appear to be politically viable. The gas tax has not been increased since 1993 and has struggled to keep pace with infrastructure expenses in recent years as cars have become more fuel efficient.
City officials are urged to continue to talk to Georgia’s delegation members about the critical importance of transportation funding to cities.