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Not for Sale

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68 T R A N S P O RTAT I O N F I N A N C E securing state leadership and local acceptance sufficient CONCLUSION to "sell" tolling for new projects. We should not force policy makers to choose While FHWA, AASHTO, and ARTBA may quibble between tax-exempt financing on the one hand or pri- about how to calculate the exact cost of maintaining sys- vate-sector innovation and equity on the other. My tem condition and performance, they would all agree on partner, Karen J. Hedlund, has written an excellent certain key findings. Despite significant increases in fund- piece on this issue,22 and she will be speaking later in ing at all levels of government since 1997, we are not the conference about it. covering the cost of maintaining system performance. As Federal policy should provide states and regional a result, congestion is increasing. authorities with a greater incentive to create new toll This conference has a unique opportunity to send a clear revenues than the existing toll credit mechanism, akin message--that the goal of reauthorization must be to avoid to the original state infrastructure bank program. this degradation in critical mobility for goods and people. Access to a small amount of new grant funds will pro- Achieving this standard will require difficult decisions by vide much-needed support for making politically diffi- elected and appointed officials at all levels of government: cult decisions. federal gas tax revenue enhancement, continued and wider TIFIA is worthy of reauthorization.23 Nevertheless, use of innovative financing tools, and more extensive use of existing and prospective borrowers have suggested a tolling and planning for alternative dedicated funding to number of revisions, and TIFIA supporters will need to supplement the gas tax by 2010, among many others. respond thoughtfully to those resisting funding TIFIA The prospect of maintaining system performance "off the top" when it has proved difficult to estimate may not yet be "gone with the wind," but it is certainly, annual program demand. in Bob Dylan's words, "blowing in the wind." 22 Hedlund, K. J. The Case for Tax-Exempt Financing of PublicPrivate Partnerships. Reason Public Policy Institute, 1998. 23 Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act: Report to Congress. U.S. Department of Transportation, 2002.