Conference committee to consider low-density
formula that gives rural states a boost
WASHINGTON, DC Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Larry
Craig want the special highway needs of Idaho and other rural
states to be properly recognized in the Transportation Reauthorization
measure now headed to a Senate-House Conference Committee.
In a letter sent to the committee leadership today, the Idaho
duo asked for support of the Senate-passed low-density formula
that helps ensure that rural states will receive an appropriate
share of highway funds.
The low-density formula will ensure that Idaho and other
states with smaller populations and large land areas receive
a proper share of highway funding, a certainty that has not
been previously available. A copy of the full letter is available
Crapo said, Our transportation system is vital to Idahos
economy, facilitating interstate commerce, moving products
to market, and providing citizens with ways to get around.
When rural states like Idaho are disadvantaged due to federal
government land ownership and other factors, the federal government
needs to recognize that and make accommodations for it. The
low-density feature of the equity funding bonus provides that
assistance and will help Idaho maintain its transportation
Craig said, Idahoans have always received more money
for transportation than we pay in gas tax and, quite frankly,
that is how it should be in a fiscally responsible world.
With our vast stretches of open highway, we simply don't have
the population to support the infrastructure we need-an infrastructure
that is the backbone of a strong economy in Idaho.
Crapo serves as a member of the Senate Environment and Public
Works Committee, which maintains jurisdiction over the public
transportation issues involved in the legislation. As a member
of that committee, Crapo worked during the Senate reauthorization
of TEA-21 (Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century)
to create a rural low-density formula. Without this provision,
Idahos share of highway funds would decline.
The low-density formula is part of the TEA-21 reauthorization.
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to complete
action on its reauthorization bill this week, which will then
become part of the Senate-House negotiations to finalize TEA-21.
The Senate passed its version of TEA-21 reauthorization in
February 2004 on a vote of 76-21.