By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, January 28, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on behalf of the National Governors Association regarding the need for Congress to pass a long-term plan for transportation infrastructure investments.
In 2012, Congress passed the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), which authorized funding for highways and transit for 27 months. The legislation expires in May 2015 and Governor Bentley urged Congress to pass a long-term funding bill that provides states the certainty needed to plan for and prioritize transportation projects.
Governor Bentley testified, “This spring, Congress has the opportunity to set a new vision for infrastructure investment in America. If we are serious about our economy and creating jobs, then Congress must prioritize investing in our transportation infrastructure. I am honored to be asked by the National Governors Association to represent this important need of states, and my goal is that Congress will consider these needs when developing new transportation funding legislation.”
Gov. Bentley wrote in written testimony, “Governors, as the “CEOs” of states, understand the importance of transportation infrastructure to economic competitiveness and job growth. To move our economy forward and be able to plan and execute long-term, multi-year projects, states need predictable federal funding and the flexibility to use existing and new financing mechanisms when public funding falls short. We are all aware that a range of funding options has been suggested because existing revenue sources cannot sufficiently support the various federal trust funds that help finance transportation and infrastructure.”
Gov. Bentley said in his written testimony, “The current surface transportation law expires at the end of May 2015. If we truly believe that a strong national transportation system is essential to creating jobs and maintaining a strong national economy, we need a law that reflects that belief. The short-term surface transportation reauthorizations and extensions patched together over the years created uncertainty at the national level and triggered action at the state level. I have described how we are improving infrastructure in Alabama, and you will soon hear about the work my colleagues are doing in their states. Governors are leading the way, but let me be clear: While state and local governments can do a lot, we cannot do it all. Action at the state level must not be interpreted as an invitation for Congress to completely transfer the federal transportation program to state and local governments. Rather, to succeed, leaders across all levels of government must work together.”
Gov. Bentley outlined three state priorities for Congress to consider when drafting legislation. The three priorities included: strong federal-state partnerships, certainty for long-term funding and flexibility for states and projects.
Governor Bentley promoted the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP) as an example of an innovative state program that addressed road and bridge improvements in the state.
Governor Bentley also discussed the need for the new I-10 bridge across the Mobile River.
Governor Bentley currently serves as the Vice Chairman of the Economic Development and Commerce Committee of the National Governors Association.
To see a video of the hearing including Governor Bentley’s testimony click here.