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Infrastructure Attorney Shant Boyajian Quoted By Law360 On Mid-Year Transportation Policy Issues to Watch

06/10/2019 Law360

Shant Boyajian, an attorney in Nossaman’s Infrastructure Practice Group, was quoted in the Law360 article, “Transpo Policy Developments To Watch: Midyear Report." The article provides an overview of issues the transportation industry is keeping tabs on—including the renewal of highway and infrastructure funding legislation.

Law360 reported that a top priority for Congress in the latter half of 2019 will be negotiating long-term legislation reauthorizing highway, transit, rail and vehicle safety programs because the most recent five-year bill--the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act — is set to expire in September 2020. Commenting on this topic, Mr. Boyajian— former senior counsel to the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and lead author and negotiator for the FAST Act—said “The challenge is always going to be how you pay for infrastructure investment policy ideas…obviously, you can put any policy you want out there, but until the actual revenue stream is identified to fund it, it's difficult politically to get traction to move those policy ideas." 

One of the issues that will be debated regarding funding the program is how to replenish the federal Highway Trust Fund, which pays for surface transportation projects nationwide, but does not bring in enough money from the federal gas tax to cover all the projects that need funding. Raising the gas tax could be a solution, but Mr. Boyajian added that "the president and Democratic leaders in Congress would need to advocate together for a federal gas tax hike in order for that to be politically feasible. If you don't have both sides really in lockstep on the issue — because this is just such a sensitive political environment — then there's too great of an opportunity for politics to intervene if you don't have both sides marching forward on it together."

To sum up the issue, he stated that  "There are no simple answers or else we would've addressed it a decade ago. It's so critical to our economy that it really necessitates a tax increase or other new revenue. It really is going to take cooperation to get it to the finish line. Both sides will want to take credit for it but they must be willing to take their lumps as well and be willing to do the right thing."

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