The Transportation Debate
There is wide agreement that America's roads and other infrastructure are in dangerous disrepair. The debate focuses on how to fund and carry out the necessary maintenance and new projects. Furthermore, what is the federal government's role in approving and regulating projects?
Official Democratic position
The Democratic party supports an increase in federal infrastructure funding and “making significant new investments in roads and bridges, public transit, drinking and wastewater systems, broadband, schools, and more. Democrats also will revitalize communities being dragged down by physical decay by building on programs like the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and the Hardest Hit Fund.” They support the expansion of Community Development Block Grant funds, federal funds for the New Markets Tax Credit, and the State Small Business Credit Initiative.
Official Republican position
The Republican Party believes the Highway Trust Fund programs should not be the business of the federal government. The Party proposes “to phase out the federal transit program and reform provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act ... We renew our call for repeal of the Davis-Bacon law, which limits employment and drives up construction and maintenance costs for the benefit of unions.” Additionally, the Party reaffirms its “intention to end federal support for boondoggles like California’s high-speed train to nowhere."
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) works with the President to determine funding and regulations for transportation projects across the country. The President works with Congress to allocate money for transit and highway projects but requires matching contributions from States and other entities for maintenance and repair.
There are two types of funding for transportation – formula funding allocated by the DOT and given to States based on their population size, gas tax receipts, number of commuters, etc. and discretionary funding – allocated by the DOT via grants and awards.
States rely on money from DOT in order to build transportation projects and attract matching investments from other entities such as the private sector and must comply with federal infrastructure regulations.
The 2012 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) funded and authorized federal transportation spending. After multiple extensions, it is set to expire on July 31, 2015.
Federal Gas Tax - Gas has been taxed since 1932, and since 1956, the revenue has gone to fund transportation projects. Since 1993, the federal gas tax has been 18.4¢/gallon and is the primary revenue source for transportation projects. States and municipalities set their own additional gas taxes.
The Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 requires public works projects that are at least partially funded by the federal government to pay the local prevailing wage. The Department of Labor is tasked with its enforcement.
Most Vocal on Transportation
These are the candidates who focus on this issue the most, with the most liberal on this issue on the left and the most conservative on this issue on the right. Click on the circles to see more information.
The Spectrum on Transportation
These are the candidates who are most liberal, most conservative, and most moderate on this specific issue. Click on each candidate to see more information.