On March 12th the American Roads & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) rolled out a comprehensive proposal to end the political impasse over how to fund future federal investments in state highway, bridge and transit capital projects. “Getting Beyond Gridlock” plan marries a 15 cents-per-gallon increase in the federal gas and diesel motor fuels tax with a 100 percent offsetting federal tax rebate for middle and lower income Americans for six years. It would fund a $401 billion, six-year highway and mass transit capital investment program and provide sustainable, user-based funds to support it for at least the next 10 years. Watch this 30-second video ad highlighting “Getting Beyond Gridlock.” In recent months, ARTBA’s Surface Transportation Advisory Council undertook some revisions and updates to our official policy statements. These represent the consensus of ARTBA’s membership on various issues, which in turn provide guidance to the staff as we represent you on a daily basis. The Board approved several changes to ARTBA’s Highway Policy in order to incorporate elements of the BOLD Act proposal, including making the National Highway Freight Network a federal investment priority and establishing a National Highway Freight Network Account as part of the Highway Trust Fund. The Contractors Division also proposed, and the Board approved, adding policy statements on three important issues on which ARTBA has advocated in recent years. The statements address local hiring mandates (opposed); performance-based prequalification for contractors, such as the program recently instituted by New Mexico DOT (opposed); and Buy America (opposed to overly-burdensome compliance for contractors). These three short statements are in the document attached. Please let us know if you have questions about them. To view those changes and to learn more, please click here.
Thank you to many of you who attended the ATB Lunch & Learn last week regarding the new regulations for minimum wage and sick leave (Prop. 206). We thank our ATB Members Mesch, Clark, Rothschild and Regier Carr & Monroe for presenting the information to our members. There were several questions and hypothetical questions that arose that were answered by the attorneys and provided much more insight and clarity. We know that many more questions may come about once the law goes into effect July 1, 2017 and we have a follow up Lunch & Learn toward the end of the year. In the meantime, ATB can offer any assistance you may need while these changes take place. For information that was discussed and handed out last week, please see here.
Yesterday ATB President Steve Melton (Hunter Contracting) and Executive Director Ramon Gaanderse met with Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. The main discussion was about property tax verses sales tax for the County and funding roads. As stated in early “Weekly’s” Pima Count tentatively adopted a property tax increase that would pay for residential roads for the next five years. The rumors had it that a sales tax was another option, but this needs unanimous vote by the Pima County Board of Supervisors, which is very unlikely. We were told yesterday that the sales tax idea would come back next year with some possible ideas of the funding breakdown since it could yield approximately $70 million versus the property tax of just under $20 million. ATB requested a seat on the oversite committee which is part of the proposal. This morning, the County Supervisors will be adopting the budget including the property tax for roads and oversite committee. We expect this to be a majority vote with Ally Miller and Steve Christy dissenting. The oversite committee will convene sometime in the late fall or early part of the winter since the County collects the property tax only twice a year. Stay tuned for more information.
ATB learned last week that the Governor’s office recently brought on Matt Clark, Transportation and Municipal Government Policy Advisor. Mat explained that the Governor’s office will be opening a P3 office to review any and all projects to determine if projects can use the “Public Private Partnership” process. When asked if we will see a transportation package for funding in the next legislative session (January 2018), the answer was, probably not. It was explained that this would be a consideration in the coming years, even though the Governor is up for election in 2018. ATB working with AGC of Arizona and others to review priorities for funding bills in the January 2018 legislative session, things like; leveraging the Arizona Department of Transportation Directors authority to raise fees, special licensing plate fees, Tax Incremental Finance (TIF), and the giving local County’s more authority to create fees within their jurisdiction.
As you may recall, Pima County tentatively approved a property tax increase that would benefit residential roads by nearly $20 million annually for five years. With that plan, ATB requested that Pima County have an Oversite Committee as the County proposed during the November 2015 Bond election, and what the City and RTA currently has in place. . The new plan for creating the oversite committee would be each member of the Board of Supervisors appoint two people each and the County Administrator will be able to appoint three people with a background in transportation planning and related experience. In addition, they will not just oversee the money collected from the property tax (given its final approval later this month) but all money that is used for roads by the County. ATB will be following the developments of this before it is voted on during the budget approval next week.
Thanks to Miura Contracting for having our Executive Director, Ramon Gaanderse, visit them at their recent jobsite. Miura was hired directly to place new concrete in various areas at the museum. Excavate as needed to achieve depth, compact native soil, reinforce as listed, form place and finish concrete sidewalks and driveways. “It is always a learning experience to visit with our members on their jobsite, plus it’s fun” says Ramon. If you have a jobsite or would like Ramon to visit with you, please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to all the attendees and sponsors of the 6th State of the RTA dinner held last Thursday night. We had a record attendance and thank you to Jim DeGrood of the RTA for being our guest speaker and proving some very valuable information. You can view the presentation here. We would also like to thank the WTS Tucson Chapter for teaming up for the fourth year and providing your support for this dinner. Thanks again to all our sponsors as always.
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It has been reported that the White House has decided to use tax reform to pay for the infrastructure bill that is planned to release any day. If you recall, back in April the White House released its one –page tax reform plan which has been discussed to help pay for the President’s rebuilding of our roads. As we reported last week, the White House is not the only decision maker on this idea. ATB has been promotion to fix tax reform and consequently pay to repair the roads. This will be an on-going debate in the coming weeks and months. Subsequently, the President announced yesterday a plan to privatize our air traffic control for cost saving measures as close to $25 billion dollars. This also has caused delays that are costing time and money and provide quicker and more efficient air traveling. This could be one of many ways to help drive down overall budget costs. This will enhance safety and rural community airports. President signed directives yesterday with Transportation Secretary Cho and former Secretary, and local name, Mary Peters.
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