Port of Oakland wants harbor maintenance funds released

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Public officials and maritime industry leaders joined together last week at the Port of Oakland to call on Congress to release funds collected from California’s port customers to improve maritime infrastructure, create jobs and preserve California’s role as an international trade leader.

“California’s future as a global leader depends on much needed job creation and economic growth,” said Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. “Utilizing the federal Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund surplus doesn’t cost anyone a dime in new taxes, and it would immediately boost our trade competitiveness, invest in California’s infrastructure and help to grow jobs on our waterfront, our farms and our manufacturing floors.”

Every year, California’s port customers pay more than $400 million in fees into a federal fund with assurances that the money will be available to fund the navigational maintenance and improvements necessary to keep U.S. ports competitive in a global marketplace. The trust fund now has built up a surplus of more than $5 billion.

In an effort to see the money released, Newsom, the California Association of Port Authorities, the California Marine Affairs and Navigation Conference, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association stood united in support of California Senate Joint Resolution 15, jointly authored by State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) and Sen. Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield). SJR 15 demands that the $5.6 billion surplus in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund be released immediately to fund improvements at California ports, promote job creation and support economic growth in California.

“The Californians calling on the federal government to release harbor maintenance funds aren’t just on the waterfront – in fact, agricultural exporters in the Central Valley are hurt when this money isn’t spent as promised,” Fuller said. “These funds were collected for the purpose of making the necessary infrastructure improvements, and by seeing that the funds are spent on those improvements, we can ensure that California’s ports are among the most competitive in the world. Having competitive ports will help ensure that every part of California, once again, has a thriving economy.”

California’s three largest ports contribute an estimated $40 billion per year to national economic output and are responsible for an estimated 1.6 million jobs across the country. To move goods, these ports depend on properly dredged channels. Fees paid by customers of California’s public ports generate about 30 percent of the Harbor Maintenance Tax revenues that are collected from shippers at about 200 ports and harbors across the United States. From fiscal years 2005 to 2008, California received about 4 percent of the total revenue collected.

“California is facing the toughest job crisis since the Great Depression, so we need to make sure that federal investment in our trade infrastructure is a top priority,” DeSaulnier said. “This important resolution calls on Congress to release funds to our California ports in order to maintain their leadership role in international trade and to create crucial job opportunities around our nation when we need them the most.”

Public officials and maritime industry leaders joined together last week at the Port of Oakland to call on Congress to release funds collected from California’s port customers to improve maritime infrastructure, create jobs and preserve California’s role as an international trade leader.

“California’s future as a global leader depends on much needed job creation and economic growth,” said Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. “Utilizing the federal Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund surplus doesn’t cost anyone a dime in new taxes, and it would immediately boost our trade competitiveness, invest in California’s infrastructure and help to grow jobs on our waterfront, our farms and our manufacturing floors.”

Every year, California’s port customers pay more than $400 million in fees into a federal fund with assurances that the money will be available to fund the navigational maintenance and improvements necessary to keep U.S. ports competitive in a global marketplace. The trust fund now has built up a surplus of more than $5 billion.

In an effort to see the money released, Newsom, the California Association of Port Authorities, the California Marine Affairs and Navigation Conference, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association stood united in support of California Senate Joint Resolution 15, jointly authored by State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) and Sen. Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield). SJR 15 demands that the $5.6 billion surplus in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund be released immediately to fund improvements at California ports, promote job creation and support economic growth in California.

“The Californians calling on the federal government to release harbor maintenance funds aren’t just on the waterfront – in fact, agricultural exporters in the Central Valley are hurt when this money isn’t spent as promised,” Fuller said. “These funds were collected for the purpose of making the necessary infrastructure improvements, and by seeing that the funds are spent on those improvements, we can ensure that California’s ports are among the most competitive in the world. Having competitive ports will help ensure that every part of California, once again, has a thriving economy.”

California’s three largest ports contribute an estimated $40 billion per year to national economic output and are responsible for an estimated 1.6 million jobs across the country. To move goods, these ports depend on properly dredged channels. Fees paid by customers of California’s public ports generate about 30 percent of the Harbor Maintenance Tax revenues that are collected from shippers at about 200 ports and harbors across the United States. From fiscal years 2005 to 2008, California received about 4 percent of the total revenue collected.

“California is facing the toughest job crisis since the Great Depression, so we need to make sure that federal investment in our trade infrastructure is a top priority,” DeSaulnier said. “This important resolution calls on Congress to release funds to our California ports in order to maintain their leadership role in international trade and to create crucial job opportunities around our nation when we need them the most.”