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Economy and Business


As highway trust fund runs out, Ohio's Sen. Brown stumps for an extension
But Portman may be leaning toward a state opt-out provision
Story by NICK CASTELE


 
Ohio's Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown has been pushing an extension of the trust fund for months.
Courtesy of NICK CASTELE
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In The Region:

The federal government is running low on cash to fund highway and bridge projects this year, and lawmakers in Washington have put together a set of competing fixes to the problem. For Ohio Public Radio, Nick Castele reports U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is pushing a bill that keeps money flowing to projects for years to come.

LISTEN: Competing highway funding plans

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Many road projects get money from the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which uses cash gleaned from a nationwide gas tax. But that tax doesn’t raise enough funds anymore to maintain the country’s highways and bridges. It’s expected to run out not long after the end of August.

In the Senate, Tennessee Republican Bob Corker and Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy want to raise the gas tax by 12 cents a gallon. They say that’ll keep the trust fund in good shape for 10 years. They want to pair that with extending tax breaks.

Senator Brown says he wants a plan that keeps road maintenance funded for at least 6 years.

“Gas tax is one of the ways, looking at other kinds of highway funding issues, and beginning to close these loopholes that oil companies enjoy” -- ending tax loopholes he says big businesses take advantage of.

Republicans have their own ideas. In the House, there’s a proposal to end Saturday postal delivery and use the savings to fund projects. The site Roll Call reports some conservatives support reducing the gas tax over time, and letting states decide if they want to raise their own.

Republican Sen. Rob Portman is leaning against raising the gas tax, and would rather give states the option to leave the federal program, but keep their federal tax money.

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