Nov 2009

Fix it now or fix it later. When it comes to Congress, they can say it, but ultimately do neither.

Such was the case again when the U.S. Senate failed in September to enact neither a six-year transportation bill nor extend the existing transportation funding authority. Instead, at the last possible moment, the Senate agreed with the House to a one-month extension to existing transportation funding. Trouble was that both chambers failed to include a provision to roll back funding rescissions, which were included in the last transportation bill in 2005. Basically, now there are billions of dollars in promise money, not real cash. Many DOTs now, will either have to reduce the number of projects they have on the table or proceed with what amounts to pretend money.

The idea of rescissions at the time was to appease opponents of a larger, more expensive transportation bill, just to get it passed, and the thought was that Congress would just fix it when the time came, this past Oct. 1. But it never happened.

Whatever happened to speeding up construction projects? You know, if we did that, it was supposed to create a stimulus effect, especially in an industry seeing an 18-percent unemployment rate. Oh, and there’s the aging infrastructure problem, too, that concurrently was going to be resolved.

Many businesses have had to scale back their workforces, leaving the remaining employees with more work to do, which still must get done. Congress hasn’t been downsized and just because they may be wrapped up in a historic health care debate, doesn’t mean that they can’t or shouldn’t find time for other important issues affecting the American people — like jobs and safe roads and bridges. Pushing things off is not an option at real jobs, including yours and mine. Congress shouldn’t do it, either. P

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