By Jon Richards
Georgia's Seventh District Congressman Rob Woodall was named to the Highways and Aviation subcommittees of the U.S. House Transportation Committee, according to an announcement by Chairman Bud Shuster of Pennsylvania. Woodall is the only Georgian on the committee that will be charged with a finding a long-term solution to replenish the federal Highway Trust Fund.
In a prepared statement, Woodall said,
We have a fantastic opportunity in the 114th Congress to make real progress on the challenges facing our region, and transportation is absolutely one of them. Georgia is a natural leader on transportation in our region, and having a Georgia voice and advocate on the Committee in Washington will make a big difference for the State and for the nation. There is much to do, but two of the most pressing legislative issues will be creating a long-term highway bill and a long-term aviation bill--both of which will flow directly through the Committee and the subcommittees on which I'm honored to serve. As the first voice for Georgia on this committee and on these issues in this decade, I am committed to long-term solutions that will help keep our State competitive and vibrant. Citizens deserve efficient, effective, and accountable federal highway and aviation programs, and 2015 is the year to provide those solutions.
In Georgia, a joint House-Senate Transportation Committee issued its final report at the end of 2014, offering several options for increasing transportation funding to accommodate maintenance and/or expansion of the state's road systems. The Georgia House Transportation Committee is expected to incorporate some of these recommendations in a bill that is rumored to be dropped before the end of the week.
The amount of federal funding Georgians can expect from the federal government is a concern. As it stands, the state has not collected $367 million it expected to receive this fiscal year. The current authorization for the Highway Trust Fund expires May 31st, so a new bill will need to be passed by then. However, if as is typical in Washington, nothing is done until the last minute, state lawmakers won't know the level of federal funding by the time they vote on their bill, presumably before the 2015 legislative session ends in April.