OneRail Sends Letter to Budget Committees - FY16 Domestic Discretionary Investments

Release Date: 
Mar 17 2015

March 17, 2015

Dear Chairman Price, Chairman Enzi, Ranking Member Van Hollen, and Ranking Member Sanders,

As you prepare your FY 2016 budget resolutions and set priorities for our nation, we are writing to urge you to invest as robustly as possible in the domestic discretionary side of the budget, which includes support for transportation and infrastructure investments.

While we recognize that there are no easy choices to be made in the budget process, we respectfully submit that the growth of the domestic economy and the creation and support of high-quality, wellpaying jobs must be our top priority, and that an extensive and well-functioning domestic transportation infrastructure system is an essential prerequisite to a healthy economy.

As a coalition of 42 different State Chambers of Commerce recently noted: “One of America’s greatest strengths is our ability to create diverse networks of transportation infrastructure to cheaply and efficiently move goods and services around the nation. In order to compete with our economic advantage, other nations are making historic investments in their own transportation infrastructure. China, India, and Europe spend about 9%, 8%, and 5% of their gross domestic product, respectively, on infrastructure investment. Meanwhile, infrastructure investments in the United States have declined to a mere 2.4% of GDP.”

In 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the United States a D+ grade on its infrastructure report card. The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness 2014/2015 Report ranks our infrastructure 16th in the world, down dramatically from its 7th place ranking just 7 years ago.

As the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee stated during the passage of the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015, “By 2039 the U.S. population will exceed 400 million and the population concentration in our urban areas is increasing. Transportation solutions for these people are paramount in order to support an expanding U.S. economy. The costs of congestion and poor transportation infrastructure continue to rise for commuters: almost $121 billion each year is wasted in time and fuel, up from only $24 billion in 1982. In addition, Americans spend a staggering 5.5 billion hours annually stuck in traffic.”

The most recent data and analyses from the Department of the Treasury and the Council of Economic Advisors, “Confirmed and strengthened their findings that now is an ideal time to increase our investment in infrastructure for the following four key reasons:

  • Well-designed infrastructure investments have long-term economic benefits and create jobs in the short run; 
  • This economic activity and job creation is especially timely as there is currently a high level of underutilized resources that can be used to improve and expand our infrastructure;
  • Middle-class Americans would benefit disproportionately from this investment through both the creation of middle-class jobs and by lowering transportation costs for American households; and 
  • There is strong demand by the public and businesses for additional transportation infrastructure capacity.” 

The OneRail Coalition looks forward to working with the bipartisan leadership of the House and Senate to invest effectively in domestic transportation infrastructure to support a growing economy, and urges the Budget Committees to take a leadership role on this national priority.