The Trump administration’s proposed $4.1 trillion budget for fiscal year 2018 released Tuesday includes major cuts for the Department of Transportation and several spending issues that have raised concerns with trucking and related organizations. In fact, one organization said, “taken as a whole, the transportation policies outlined in the Trump Administration budget proposal would do more harm than good and represent a missed opportunity.”
The proposed spending plan, which is expected to face changes in both houses of Congress, includes:
- cutting the DOT budget by nearly $17 billion annually by 2022
- $200 billion over 10 years to encourage private investment in infrastructure
- allowing states “to assess their transportation needs and weight the relative merits of tolling assets,” which could increase tolls on interstates
- private investment in rest areas on interstates
- $1 billion in cuts to an education program that helps train men and women for truck driving and other careers
Here’s how trucking and related organizations reacted:
Commercial Vehicle Training Association President and CEO Don Lefeve issued the following statement regarding President Trump’s FY 2018 budget and urging members of Congress to support funding for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) at authorized levels.
“We are disappointed by the Trump administration’s proposal to drastically cut Workforce Innovation and Opportunities (WIOA) Act grants by nearly $1 billion. WIOA is a critical funding source, which allows thousands of individuals to receive the education and training needed to enter in-demand careers like commercial truck and bus driving.
“The trucking industry is facing a driver shortage and cuts to programs like WIOA will further exacerbate this problem. WIOA grants help Americans acquire the training needed to obtain a commercial driver’s license, gets people back to work, and keeps our nation’s economy moving forward.
CVTA looks forward to working with Congress to ensure that WIOA is fully funded as authorized.”
National Association of Truckstop Operators President and CEO Lisa Mullings today issued the following statement on the Trump Administration’s budget proposal that would like to “liberalize tolling policy and allow private investment in rest areas”:
“The proposals to toll Interstates and commercialize Interstate rest areas threaten the businesses that serve interstate highway travelers, such as travel plazas, convenience stores and restaurants. Oftentimes, these businesses are the economic backbone of off-highway communities; these proposals therefore not only harm private companies but also thousands of local tax bases throughout the country.
“Nearly 80,000 gas stations, truck service businesses and restaurants operate within a quarter mile of the Interstate Highway System employing 2 million Americans and contributing billions in state and local taxes.
“‘Public-private partnership’ sounds innovative; proponents talk about attracting ‘new money’ for construction. What we need to understand is that public-private partnerships in the context of surface transportation are nothing more than toll roads. It would be great if we had a magic pot of money to pay for construction and maintenance of our roads. We don’t. Under this proposal, the same people who have been paying fuel taxes to build and maintain these roads will have to pay tolls, too.
“NATSO has long supported increased infrastructure investments, and the Trump administration’s plans will likely include many concepts and policies that the travel plaza industry would consider positive. However, taken as a whole, the transportation policies outlined in the Trump Administration budget proposal would do more harm than good and represent a missed opportunity.
“The truck stop and travel plaza community stands ready to work with the administration to resolve our nation’s infrastructure funding needs, and we are hopeful that President Trump and his staff will engage with us on policy discussions in the coming months.”
Bill Sullivan, American Trucking Associations executive vice president for advocacy said:
“While ATA is encouraged by the apparent focus on infrastructure investment in this budget, an investment we strongly support and look forward to helping the administration and Congress shape, we are deeply concerned by the proposal to loosen the restrictions on interstate tolling.
“In addition to being inefficient and unsafe, tolling has proven to be deeply unpopular, with states like North Carolina and Virginia abandoning interstate toll projects. Quite simply, time and again, proposals to use tolls to fund highways have failed.
“We encourage the Trump administration and congress to follow their example and look for more efficient and sustainable funding mechanisms for this investment package.”
The Truckload Carriers Association’s President John Lyboldt said:
“President Trump’s budget is a starting place which highlights his priorities. This is not any different than the Presidents before him. It is our responsibility and duty to be certain the voice of the membership is being heard with solid facts on things that are of the greatest concern regarding the safe and efficient movement of freight across North America.”