Sunday, August 7, 2011

Funding Highway Repairs

I’d actually consider giving some thought to supporting this idea. Former Senator Trent Lott says he would support an extension for the increase of federal taxes at the gas pump. Still need to think some about an increase in the amount.

The reasons for the increase are valid. Our roads and bridges are showing serious signs of decay. But the federal government doesn’t have the money right now to do more than it is already doing. But I do have a caveat. The gas tax money taken in would have to be earmarked for highway and bridge repairs and improvements only. No stealing from the account like is being done with Social Security. An independent commission, we’ll call it the RAB commission (RAB = Roads And Bridges Commission) would be appointed by a group of congress-critters equally divided among Republicans and democrats. The sitting President would appoint three of his/her choosing from their party and the ranking member of the Senate from the opposite party would appoint three from his/her party.

The RAB commission would not have the ability to dictate funding. They couldn’t due to constitutional restrictions. But they would monitor the expenditures. The commission would provide Congress with semi-annual reports, giving recommended actions on projects underway, and status of projects funded but not active. Congress would have to provide rebuttal if the action recommendations given by the committee are not accepted.

They would also provide non-binding recommendations to Congress on which new projects should be funded each budget cycle. Under no obligation, Congress could insert some, none, or all of the committee’s recommendations into the funding lines.

One way to make this work a little better might be for each state to provide a list of projects that require funding. These projects would be listed by state and district. Then divvy the projects up equally. If there are 50 projects (one from each state), each state gets their project funded. If there is not enough money to fund each project, then the most expensive project gets dropped

If there is enough money to fund 100 projects, each state gets two projects, equally divided between a democrat district and a Republican district.

Once each state has an equal number of projects funded, then the RAB Commission recommendations come into play. As Congress funds projects in each state, these would be crossed off the RAB Commission recommendations list, if they are on this list. If there are any projects left on the RAB list, then Congress can begin to look at funding those.

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