Editorial: Renewing overdue bids would refuel economy

The Spokesman-Review, July 24, 2015 –

An overdue bid to replenish the federal Highway Trust Fund could be the vehicle for renewal of the Export-Import Bank charter.

Refueling both would boost the economy.

Absent congressional action, the trust fund, which finances the maintenance of crumbling highways and bridges, runs out of money July 31. The House, which passed a two-month stopgap bill, begins its traditional August recess next Friday. So that’s the deadline for the Senate, which adjourns a week later, to find a long-term solution.

The problem, as always, is the political freak-out over financing. The federal government spends $50 billion a year on repairs, but collects only $34 billion from vehicle-related sources. Congress has long been aware of this deficit, but many members are afraid to raise a federal gas tax fixed at 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993.

Inflation and improved fuel efficiency have eroded those revenues, just as they have for the states.

The full story from the Spokesman- Review is here.