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LaHood Promises Comprehensive Transportation Bill
Thursday, 04 March 2010 00:00
DOT Secretary says administration opposes gas tax increase

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Wednesday that the administration wants to move forward with a “comprehensive, robust transportation bill,” but opposes increasing the gas tax while unemployment remains at around 10 percent.

“I know it’s easy for people who are not elected to talk about raise the gas tax, because those people don’t have to face the voters,” LaHood told members of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. He urged Congress to find a bipartisan agreement on funding a new bill.

LaHood told reporters that the administration will present its principles for a new six-year surface transportation bill within 90 days. He praised a comprehensive transportation bill presented last July by Rep. James L. Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“We like a lot of things that are in Jim Oberstar’s bill,” LaHood said. But he said the $450 billion price tag was too high right now. “That kind of money doesn’t currently exist.”

LaHood noted that the 2011 DOT budget includes an infrastructure fund to finance national transportation projects. Not everyone in Congress likes the idea, but the budget proposal gives lawmakers the opportunity to debate its merits, he said.

Journal of Commerce Online, 3/4/2010