One of my favorite trips every year is the Geosynthetic Materials Association (GMA) Fall Lobby Day. It is usually a good time to be in Washington … not too hot, not too cold, slight chance of rain. It is also the political season for dramatic action—or in recent sessions of Congress—inaction and shutdown talk.
The biannual Lobby Day coming up on Oct. 29 holds the promise of ultimate drama—money for this nation’s roads and bridges or not. Or not meaning, as many pundits call it—“kick the can” again—the 34th time in the last six years to pass a temporary bill for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). The HTF is the engine that drives every state’s transportation projects, the lifeblood for transportation providers such as geosynthetics manufacturers and installers.
The thing is, the most recent HTF temp funding expires on Oct. 29—the day we are on Capitol Hill.
Discussions about raising the stagnant (since 1993) gas tax has been at the forefront of recent GMA Lobby Days, and that topic is sure to be a point of debate before we are there on Oct. 29.
GMA director Jon Curry has it right (see pp. 53-54)—on the 29th, we could witness another kick-the-can or we could be in Washington on the day when Congress actually grows a backbone and fully funds the HTF.
As Curry wrote in his Geosynthetics column in the June/July issue: “In 2014, our industry’s combined revenue exceeded $2.5 billion and spending on U.S. highway planning and construction exceeded $35 billion. Increased [geosynthetics industry] involvement in our government relations program will help GMA continue to provide programming and build relationships that will grow our members’ market share for years to come.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation has, multiple times, revived its online HTF ticker to warn lawmakers about the consequences of allowing the HTF funding measure to expire.
Kick the can again or kick in the dough to rebuild this country’s infrastructure?
Stay tuned … we will keep you posted.