The Associated Press reports that another attempt to add more revenue to the Highway Trust Fund was blocked in the Senate yesterday. An $8-billion infusion for the trust fund is part of a bill to extend various expiring tax breaks, including some for renewable energy sources. The measure fell nine votes short of the 60 needed to close off debate on the bill.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) introduced the "extenders" bill that includes the trust fund "fix." Construction industry and state officials have been seeking a way to add revenue to the trust fund to address a projected $3.1-billion deficit in the fund's highway account in fiscal 2009.
The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) backed the provision that would prevent the Highway Trust Fund from going into the red.The anticipated shortfall next year could stop new infrastructure projects and result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs. The House on July 23 approved a stand-alone bill that would shift $8 billion to the trust fund from the general fund, but the plan hasn't made it through the Senate.
Advocates of renewable energy sources also were also disappointed by the vote. It leaves in limbo such provisions as a solar energy tax credit, which is scheduled to expire at the end of December. Baucus' bill would have extended the solar credit for eight years.
"Failure to pass the Baucus/Grassley fix will reduce highway funding to states by 32 percent. The Baucus/Grassley provision will ensure that the Highway Trust Fund does not go into deficit next year," said AGC's chief executive officer Stephen E. Sandherr.