Statement of Sen. Christopher Bond
Transportation Funding
November 4, 1997

MR. CHAIRMAN--Thank you for calling this hearing. It is important that we hear from our witnesses. However, I want to take a moment to "throw" out my idea to get us around the "roadblock" we are in.

Mr. Chairman, as you are aware, there are some Senators pushing a quick fix to the situation we now find ourselves in by saying we should pass the 6- month extension passed by the House. Others are saying that we pass a 6- month extension with the Senate formula.

I don't think we can solve the formula issues for a 6-month extension in the limited time period we have. First, if I recall, when the Senate bill was brought up several Senators went to the floor to complain about the Senate formula reported from this Committee. Second, I know that I cannot agree to the House formula which is a continuation of the current formula which is horrible for my State of Missouri. If we conference the House formula versus the Senate formula for a 6-month extension, we will leave here with nothing.

Still others are saying that we should hold fast and refuse to pass anything to put the pressure on to pass a 6-year reauthorization. With all due respect, I am not about to tell my Missouri "tough luck" if they run out of money.

Therefore Mr. Chairman, I "throw out" my idea for a 6 month extension that has one major "key" distinction--no formula fight!

My proposal is as follows:

First, it is a "real" 6 month extension. Not three months of money to be spread over 6 months and not 12 months of funding crammed into 6 months.

Second, it provides the flexibility to the States on the use of their unobligated balances. I know that there are some groups who might have a concern with the States "borrowing" money from the CMAQ program or the Enhancements program, etc. My proposal will contain a "payback provision" upon the enactment of a 6-year reauthorization bill.

Third, my proposal provides the 6 months of funding for the Safety Programs, including the Motor Carrier Safety Program and the National Driver Register. In addition, 6 months of funding for transit and Department of Transportation operating costs.

Finally, one of the big concerns with the unobligated balances is how they are distributed across the country. Many States, including my State of Missouri, tend to obligate the majority of their funds in the first 6 months of the fiscal year so they are in need of funding now. Others tend to obligate the majority of their funds after the first 6 months so they are not feeling the "pinch". My proposal would provide what I guess I will call a "hold harmless" provision. This provision would allow States to obligate up to either the first 6 months of its obligation in fiscal year 1996 or 1997, whichever is greater. For States who would need this -- this would be a "down payment" on their fiscal year 1998 dollars that would come from the 6-year bill.

This might sound a little complicated--but it is not really. This is the only way I see to keep the money flowing, the construction going, the doors open, and treat "all" states fairly.