The chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, Stephen E. Sandherr, issued the following statement in response to the President’s proposed 2012 federal budget and the House Republican’s proposed 2011 continuing resolution:
“It is encouraging to see that the President appreciates the difference between wasteful spending and essential transportation investments needed to boost overall economic growth and protect Americans from later, larger fiscal liabilities. After all, businesses rely on an efficient transportation system to successfully compete in the global economy. Meanwhile, investing in needed capacity and maintenance projects now protects taxpayers from having to pay much more to repair broken roads and bridges in a few years.
“We are, however, concerned by the administration’s proposal to transform the Highway Trust Fund into a Transportation Trust Fund that would fund high speed rail, Amtrak, ’livability’ grants and other administration priorities. The administration promises to use existing gas tax and other revenue sources only to continue funding highway and transit projects. However, it is hard to take this proposal seriously when the administration has yet to identify how it will pay for the other programs it wants to add to the trust fund. This portion of the proposal appears more like an effort to obscure overall spending levels than to actually create a viable new role for the Trust Fund.
“More broadly, the administration’s and House Republicans’ proposals to cut billions from clean and drinking water programs, waterway maintenance, airport improvements and public building upkeep will undermine long-term efforts to reduce the federal deficit. That is because repairing broken water mains, dredging silted-over ports and fixing out-of-service locks will cost the federal government far more than investing in needed maintenance would today. Worse, the decline in business activity and lost jobs such infrastructure breakdowns cause would serve as a drag on economic growth.
“We understand and strongly support the need to cut spending and reduce the federal deficit. That is why we will be working over the coming weeks and months to help Washington officials make the kind of reforms and spending cuts that reduce both short-term spending and protect Americans from long-term financial liabilities. The last thing we should do is hand taxpayers a large long-term bill to pay for small, short-term cuts.”