August 2014

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26 | www.cedmag.com | Construction Equipment Distribution | August 2014 Highway Funding researchers at the prestigious College of William & Mary to help explain the economic impact of infrastructure invest- ment, the challenges confronting the federal program, and possible solutions. AED has also crunched the numbers to show the highway program's equipment market and dealership-employment impact on a state-by-state basis to help lawmakers better understand how the industry would be affected by the highway program's collapse. Media outreach. AED weighs in with reporters and sends letters to the editor to tell the industry's story. We issue regular press releases and statements to make sure the media is aware of important developments and AED's positions on the issues. We also support TRIP (both finan- cially and as a member of TRIP's board). TRIP is a nonprofit organization that works with the media to tell the story about national and state-level infrastructure needs. So What's the Solution? There are many ways Congress could solve the highway crisis. A review of all possible solutions is beyond the scope of this article. AED isn't wedded to a single fix, but we do have a long-standing policy in support of keeping the highway program user fee funded and ensuring predictable revenue streams that allow lawmakers, state transportation officials, and the construction industry to plan. Of course, the simplest solution would be to raise the gas tax. It currently stands at 18.3 cents per gallon and hasn't been increased since 1993. In that time, it has lost close to half its purchasing power. The 2013 AED William & Mary study demonstrated that raising the gas tax to 25 cents per gallon and indexing it for inflation going forward would not only provide enough money to sustain current investment levels over the next two decades, it would also provide $167 billion in additional revenue to help build more roads and bridges. That's the solution AED has been promoting on Capitol Hill. Beyond the revenue benefits, a gas tax increase would be easier to implement than any other solution because the collec- tion infrastructure is already in place. But raising the gas tax won't be easy. Some lawmakers object in principal to any new taxes, without regard to the user fee distinction. Others are concerned that a gas tax increase would be regressive because lower income drivers spend proportionately more on gas that high earners. Others are just plain scared about the prospect of voter backlash. That being said, in late spring we started to detect a change in the way some lawmakers are responding to ("Funding Conundrum" continued from page 25)

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