With all of the current changes going on in the industry, government and economy in general, I felt it was fitting to change up the blog. This will now be an opinion blog, with a focus on current events and news that affects the transportation industry. For those that still want them, top news articles will still be included. Here goes!
Last night while I was watching Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, I saw on Twitter that the debt deal was being agreed upon. It brought some great relief that I could enjoy all of Shark Week worry free. However, even with the deal finally being made, I realized that this is just the first step in a several month process to help finance the government, its agencies and projects. There are several important bills, authorizations and votes that need to be decided upon. Some have already gone unresolved and put thousands of people out of work. The focus on a debt deal overshadowed many of these important topics, especially those that largely affect our industry.
The first is the FAA reauthorization that went unresolved during the debt negotiations. Due to this, the FAA began a partial shutdown, over 4,000 federal employees were furloughed and $2.5 billion in airport improvement work stalled. This partial shutdown also caused the FAA to lose about $200 million in airline taxes each week.
The second is a transportation bill that has been reworked over and over again by different politicians all thinking they have the best plan. These plans have included the options for a simple extension, a massive increase in spending by the Obama administration to improve infrastructure and massive cuts in spending including bicycle and pedestrian project funding.
The third is the gas tax that expires on September 30 and could drastically change things in the industry if not reauthorized. While no one in Washington is suggesting an increase, many are worried that it may be targeted for a cut. Many advocates for transportation and improving infrastructure are actually hoping for an increase to help fund projects.
So with Washington finally coming to an agreement on a debt deal, I say good job and get back to work for the next two months. When October 1st comes around and the rest of these issues are resolved, you can take a break then. For the rest of us, let it be known that you want this resolved. Get on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to discuss it. Contact your representatives. Let yourself be heard on this!
– Ben Dundas, Web Analyst
Follow me @ben37dBG