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
Congressman Ed Markey represents an average Democratic position
Ed Markey supports increased investment in "transit-oriented development." He supports increasing the Department of Transportation’s role in automobile and train safety. Markey supports the creation of a National Infrastructure Bank to fund transportation projects. He supports the Davis-Bacon law (see below).
Many Democrats support a gas tax increase and some support efforts to streamline the federal permitting process.
Official Republican position
Senator James Lankford represents an average Republican position
Lankford "supports common sense legislation that simplifies permits and regulations, saving our state and nation money." He supports letting States opt-out of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and use that money on transportation projects without having to comply with HTF regulations. He supports the repeal of the Davis-Bacon law (see below).
Some Republicans support a gas tax increase or the creation of a National Infrastructure Bank to fund infrastructure projects.
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.