Finance & Funding

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ISSUE

The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) supports increased funding and implementation of innovative financing mechanisms to improve and maintain the nation’s transportation network. New sources of funding and financing should be explored and implemented when appropriate to provide a sustainable revenue stream into the future.

RECOMMENDATIONS

PARTNERSHIPS

  • Support the federal government’s partnership with local governments and regions to address critical transportation infrastructure issues.
  • Engage directly with local elected officials, who understand the local needs, opportunities, and obligations through their “on-the-ground” perspective.
  • Encourage partnerships between federal, state, regional, and local government, as well as public and private industry.

FUNDING

  • Provide adequate funding and authority to maintain and grow transportation infrastructure supporting the safe and efficient movement of people, goods, and services throughout the nation.
  • Allow federal funds to leverage other money, especially projects that impact beyond state, city, county, and regional borders.
  • Provide streamlined and flexible funding to maximize the work of regional councils of government (COGs), metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), and rural planning organizations (RPOs), and directly allocate funds to MPOs of all sizes for planning and programming in these areas.
  • Conduct extensive research into innovative transportation funding and financing solutions such as raising and indexing the federal gas tax; regional transportation taxes; pricing; tolling; user-based fees; and, public private partnerships (PPPs), etc.
  • Enable flexible and innovative local financing options, particularly as it applies to local matching funds.
  • Authorize “Regional Infrastructure Improvement Zones” (RIIZs), a change to the federal tax code that would allow businesses and individuals to make tax deductible contributions toward a COG/MPO/RPO-approved infrastructure project.

PROGRAM

  • Emphasize transportation as a high priority in federal, state, and local governments through proactive policies.
  • Recognize the critical roles regional COGs, MPOs, and RPOs play in supporting local, regional, and national economies through the planning and implementing of vital transportation projects.
  • Support and enable increased local government authority to determine and employ solutions at the regional level.
  • Provide incentives to regions and localities that plan communities to consider transportation projects in the context of housing, economic development, and environmental considerations.

BACKGROUND

Funding for the nation’s transportation needs is in serious doubt. The federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) – which is supported by fuel taxes that haven’t increased since 1993 – has required transfers of billions in general fund dollars since 2008 to remain solvent. Over time, the increasing costs of construction have eroded the purchasing power of the fuel taxes, and increasing fleet efficiency means drivers are contributing a smaller share to the HTF. The Congressional Budget Office has determined there may not be enough revenue to keep the HTF afloat through fiscal year 2015.

The current strain on funding means that COGs and MPOs are being asked to do more with too little funding. COGs and MPOs play critical roles in supporting regional economies through the multimodal movement of people, goods, and services. Increased funding would help improve their capacity to carry out these essential functions.
MPOs are responsible for providing at least a 20% share of costs for a transportation project, and in many cases the regional contribution to a project is much higher.

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Copyright © 2013 National Association of Regional Councils