July 30, 2015

Hirono Backs Passage Of Highway Bill: While Imperfect, Highway Bill Will Increase Funding For Hawaii

Highway Bill Also Reauthorizes Export-Import Bank, Which Supports Jobs And Small Businesses In Hawaii

Washington, D.C. – Today, Senator Mazie K. Hirono voted to pass the highway bill, which if enacted, will increase highway and bus funding for Hawaii.

“The six-year highway bill will give transportation agencies more certainty to plan for the long-term building and repair of our roads, bridges, public transit systems, and other infrastructure needs that are critical to our economy. The bill also reauthorizes the Export-Import Bank, which supports jobs and small businesses in Hawaii.

“This highway bill that passed the Senate today is imperfect. There are many provisions that concern me, perhaps the most important being adequate funding. Republicans were unwilling to have a real discussion about how to pay for this bill. Particularly unacceptable was their initial idea to pay for the bill by cutting Social Security, among other programs.

“The bill also raised safety concerns that I hope will be addressed in conference. I introduced an amendment to strike a provision that may jeopardize the safety of port workers and supported amendments to require manufacturers to more quickly report to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the need for a vehicle recall or face imprisonment, require manufacturers to secure their vehicles from malicious hackers, ensure a broader federal complete street policy, and other priorities.”

Highway funding is set to expire at the end of the month. Earlier this week, the House recessed, which prevents a six-year highway bill from reaching the President’s desk before expiration. As a result, Senator Hirono also reluctantly supported a three-month extension of current funding for highways and the VA, which prevents reckless shutdowns of critical ongoing projects.

Under the transportation bill that passed the Senate today, Hawaii’s highway funding increases from a current level of $163 million to $171 million in the first year of the bill, a nearly 5% increase, and up to $197 million in fiscal year 2021, a 20% increase from current funding levels. However, currently, the bill does not provide funding for the full six years.