Lee says president’s proposal does to transportation what Obamacare has done to health care

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Wednesday, Sen. Mike Lee released the following statement on the president’s transportation proposal:

Today, the president has offered the country the same old idea: send more money to Washington where the special interests get their cut, the politicians get the credit, and future generations get the bill. Unfortunately, his proposal is more about preserving a dysfunctional system than improving our roads. It’s a top-down, DC-knows-best approach to do to our transportation infrastructure what Obamacare has done to our health care.

Conservatives have a fresh approach that will save money, reduce commuting times, grow the economy and create jobs, and allow state and local officials, who are ultimately responsible for infrastructure projects, to respond more quickly to the transportation needs of each state.

The Transportation Empowerment Act creates a new system where Americans would no longer have to send significant gas-tax revenue to Washington, where politicians, bureaucrats, and lobbyists siphon off precious resources before sending it back to the states with strings attached. Instead, under this proposal, states and cities could plan, finance, and build better-designed and more affordable projects.

Some communities could choose to build more roads, while others might prefer to repair old ones. Some might build highways, others light-rail. And all would be free to experiment with innovative green technologies, and new ways to finance their projects, like congestion pricing and smart tolls.

All states and localities should finally have the flexibility to develop the kind of transportation system they want, for less money, without politicians and special interests from other parts of the country telling them how, when, what, and where they should build.

Transportation Empowerment Act

How it Works

  • Transfers almost all authority over federal highway and transit programs to the states over a five-year period
  • Lowers the federal gas tax to 3.7 cents from 18.4 cents over the same time period
  • During the five-year phase out, states will receive block grants that come with vastly fewer federal strings attached

What It Does

  • Immediately reduces the bureaucratic burden involved in the construction of critical transportation projects
  • Results in a faster administrative response to the transportation problems Americans face, such as traffic, commuting, and access
  • Gives states greater flexibility in their tax structure
  • Connects where people want to work with where they want to live
  • Opens opportunities to develop new mass-transit solutions, innovate environmental protections, and improve the financing of projects
  • Creates jobs and grows the economy

Why The Current System Hurts The Commute

  • When the costs of federal red tape and Highway Trust Fund redistribution are taken into account, 37 states, including Georgia and Utah, have a rate of return below 100 percent; for example, Georgia’s estimated buying power in Fiscal Year 2014 is anticipated to be approximately 84 percent based on the most recent Highway Trust Fund payment information available, costing Georgia taxpayers $185 million.
  • For Fiscal Year 2014, $820 million was authorized nationwide for so-called “transportation alternatives” described by the Federal Highway Administration as “landscaping and scenic enhancement” and “recreational enhancement,” among others

Submitted by the offices of Sen. Mike Lee


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  • Fred February 27, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    I totally agree with Senator Lee.

    • Bub February 28, 2014 at 11:21 am

      I trust that Lee will always find a way to make things worse. I trust Lee.

  • Bender February 27, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    I’m not taking financial advice from the guy who stiffed his bank for $400,000 on a short sale of a home he could not afford in spendy Alpine, Utah.

  • Biden 2016 February 27, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    We need more Senator Lee type thinkers in Washington.

  • Bub February 27, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    Since when are republicans conservative? Who remembers Bush Jr’s spending record?

  • Bender February 27, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    The Interstate Highway system is funded and built at the federal level to facilitate interstate commerce and national defense needs. Before Republican president Eisenhower’s Federal Highway Act of 1956 interstate travel, on roads built by the individual states, was slow and tedious. The federal fuel tax of 18.4 cents/gallon has not been raised in over 20 years despite inflation. 18 cents in 1993 dollars is worth only 11 cents in 2014. Federal fuel tax is less than a meager 6% of the current cost of fuel.
    Should Senator Lee’s idea take hold we would have inward looking states allocating money to maintain and expand a national transportation system. The first result locally would be the state of Arizona putting up toll booths on the Virgin River Gorge. Why would AZ spend its own money to maintain an incredibly expensive stretch of road that hardly any AZ residents use? AZ threatened to do just this last year.
    Transportation fuel taxes are among the fairest of all taxes in that they directly, and proportionally, tax the user (vehicle drivers) of the resource (roads). Our fuel taxes are among the lowest in the world. Almost all of the rest of the developed world have fuel taxes much, much higher that we pay.
    As usual, Lee is throwing out unworkable ideas authored to appeal to his rabid base of voters. Social Security, Medicare, and Military spending consume the vast majority of your federal dollars. The Tea Party wants to blame the immigrants and the poor for the deficit while ignoring where most of the money really goes. It won’t be petulant Tea Party wingnuts that solve our budgetary problems. It will be real statesmen who can reach both ways across the isle and make compromises — reasonable cuts in military, social security and medicare combined with raising more revenue by eliminating the tax cuts the wealthy received under Republican presidential administrations.

    • Bub February 28, 2014 at 11:42 am

      I’m not sure a majority of Tea-party folk will be capable of reading that long of a comment–got to conserve the attention span for the right-wing AM radio…

    • Karen February 28, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      Very thoughtful and true analysis. MIke Lee wants to take the country back to the good old days in the 50’s when everything was perfect, at least in his eyes. I wouldn’t trust the Utah State Legislature with any more money than they already squander on senseless message bills.

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