The Highway Restoration Act
THE HIGHWAY RESTORATION ACT OF 2017
REP. MARK SANFORD
Background: The Highway Trust Fund
- The Highway Trust Fund is the primary mechanism that finances the construction and maintenance of surface transportation projects in the United States.
- The federal government imposes an 18.3 cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline and a 24.3 cent-per-gallon tax on diesel fuel that primarily finances the Highway Trust Fund.
- When the Highway Trust Fund was first created in the bill titled the Federal-Aid Highway Act, the language states the purpose was to “authorize appropriations for continuing the construction of highways.”
- Trust funds are created with a specific purpose, and it is important to protect the integrity of those trust funds so that the people who pay into them will realize the benefits.
- Congress has not held to this original purpose and has diverted more and more funds away from road and bridge construction and towards public transportation projects through the Mass Transit Account.
- This has led to the federal government collecting $35 billion per year in gas taxes for the for the Highway Account and $5 billion for the Mass Transit Account, with a cumulative shortfall with outlays totaling $44.2 billion for the Highway Account and $7.7 billion for the Mass Transit Account.
- Since 2008, filling that gap between outlays and revenues has cost taxpayers $139 billion.
- The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Highway Trust Fund will face a funding shortfall of $111 billion by 2026.
- The Highway Restoration Act of 2017 phases out the Mass Transit Account from the Highway Trust Fund over a five year period so that the available money can go towards its original purpose to build our highways and bridges and reduce the shortfall by roughly half.
- This five year phase out period is designed to give mass transit systems sufficient time to find dedicated funding sources.