The most recent and most concrete step that has been taken is the introduction and progress of the DRIVE Act. It isn’t a solution, or even a suggestion of a solution, but rather a glance in the right direction. Just yesterday the EPW (Committee on Environment and Public Works) passed this bill through to Congress. The bill will move money around from less important endeavors to building and maintaining roads. The act also ramps up spending over the next 6 years to the tune of $275 billion. Sound familiar? Like we mentioned in our previous article, a possible solution that Congress and the president have been considering is taxing money stashed by American companies overseas. This would bring in a projected $240 billion dollars over the next 6 years. The numbers don’t match exactly, but they are too close to be unrelated. This legislation, if passed by Congress, will almost certainly mean moving forward with taxing the currently untouchable cash.
Other solutions that have been recently introduced are privatization of highway building and maintenance and introducing tolls on federal highway and interstates. Both of these endeavors would institute tolls on the users of interstates, a tactic that discourages economic growth and can create safety issues because truckers take smaller roads to avoid the fees. Privatization in particular creates massive fees for motorists because of the need to create profit and appease stock holders. As far as a long lasting solution is concerned, no idea has received major support. Increased taxation on gas or introducing a tax based on miles driven still seems to be the most logical idea but politicians are slow to back anything as unpopular as tax increases. For now highways will continue to slow in construction and maintenance and money will continue to be transferred from the general fund to keep projects alive.
For a 2019 check in on the Fund go here.