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SYNTHESIS Conference Themes C onference participants recognized the unique The increasing emphasis on linking beneficia- opportunity--and challenge--presented by the ries--both direct users and other beneficiaries--to multiple upcoming transportation program funding and on recognition of a general willingness to reauthorizations: for surface transportation, the suc- pay more for the right purposes and under the right cessor to the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st circumstances. Century (TEA-21); for aviation, the successor to the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act Conference participants also addressed at length the for the 21st Century; and for Amtrak, the successor to future of the gas tax, with a common theme that the cur- the Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act of 1997. rent structure is unfair or unsustainable or both. The Conference participants also recognized that these concept of transparency is ever important and gets to the reauthorization initiatives would take place under the concepts of intergovernmentalism and the link between shadow of a strained fiscal situation at federal, state, payers and users or beneficiaries. and local levels of government and in an environment In thinking abut how to structure transportation charged by the intense focus on addressing security- funding for the future, conference participants recog- related needs. With this base, conference participants nized the need to bring the dialogue to a higher-level utilized the four tracks of the conference program to framework, one that integrates important underlying flesh out some key issues. Following is a review of the principles. Such principles include the traditional central issues addressed in each of the four tracks. ones of Equity, TRACK 1 Predictability and stability, Adequacy of the collection function and structure, The four sessions of Track 1 focused on near-future Ease of collection administration, funding options and potential new funding paradigms Efficiency, and for transportation at the national and local levels. These Transparency. sessions focused on In addition to these more traditional principles, con- The various ways that states and localities are ference presenters and participants focused new atten- taking the initiative, resulting in more players in fund- tion on the importance of having consistency with other ing and financing and the need for new creativity and public policies, such as those related to energy conser- programmatic approaches and vation and environmental protection. 55