The U.S. Senate on Wednesday, Feb. 24, approved by a 70-28 vote a $15 billion jobs bill that includes a one-year reauthorization of the federal Highway Trust Fund and expense deductions for small businesses.
John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, says the Senate vote is the first step to ensuring that states can maintain their transportation programs and prepare for the oncoming construction season. AASHTO says both the House bill – Jobs for Main Street, which was passed in December – and the Senate jobs bill would:
• Extend federal funding for highways and transit programs while Congress works on a multiyear authorization;
• Provide $19.5 billion for the Highway Trust Fund to ensure that funding is adequate to continue the programs; and
• Repair the baseline for the highway program to at least maintain last year’s funding levels. Currently states are receiving $1 billion per month less in federal highway obligation authority because of a rescission that took place in September. If funding levels are not restored to pre-rescission levels in the budget, the highway program will plunge by $13 billion.
“We urge the Senate to work with the House to advance a bill for the president’s signature before February 28,” Horsley says.
The Senate jobs measure includes $13 billion to give companies a break from paying Social Security taxes for the remainder of the year on new employees. If those workers remain on the payroll for at least a year, their employers also would get a $1,000 tax credit.