Thank you Chairman Boxer and Ranking Member Inhofe for holding this hearing today. This hearing is a great opportunity to initiate the necessary conversation of how to move this country forward to meet our country’s transportation needs.
In addition, thank you to all the members of the commission for their hard work on this report, and especially to the members testifying today. It is your work that has brought needed attention to this issue.
In addressing this issue, we need to take a hard look at the best way to balance our critical national infrastructure needs with helping American families keep more of their hard earned money. Many call me a conservative but I am an infrastructure conservative.
I believe, as many do, that our transportation infrastructure is a vital component of our economy and that we need to bring the infrastructure of this nation back to the point where it can promote and sustain strong economic growth. For this reason, the long term financing and infrastructure problems that we face today need to be evaluated in-depth and all viable solutions need careful consideration.
However, the one thing that is clear in this debate is the need for action. With the growth of our population, coupled with the expanding global economy, our country cannot withstand the consequences of inaction. I hope that our discussion today will be a good starting point from which we can better understand our current infrastructure situation and the possible solutions to this situation.
However, as we move forward in our discussions, there are a couple areas of concern in the commission’s recommendations. It is important to address possible alternatives to the recommendations regarding the increased federal role, the gas tax hikes and the rise in tolls. In SAFETEA, we managed to streamline the federal process.
Also, I will have to question how the Department of Transportation can administer the 10 new focus areas eliminating the modal focused divisions and how we exercise effective Congressional oversight. Additionally, the Commission focused a great deal on highway but needs to expand the focus to include efficient rail and water (WRDA).
While I respect the commission’s report, it is my hope that this report will foster the discussion of possible alternatives rather than narrow the scope of solutions.
Undoubtly, our transportation infrastructure is in need of an overhaul; however, we should strike a balance to strike a balance with that need and the everyday needs of the American family. We have difficult decisions before us, but this report can make those decisions more informed and more effective.
Again, I thank the chair and the commission for their hard work. I look forward to hearing from the other commissioners and to working with the entire commission to move forward in solving America’s infrastructure needs.