Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) confirmed she is already working on the next transportation bill — “two months to the day after President Obama signed MAP-21 into law and before the new policies even kick in on Oct. 1,” according to Politico, which broke the story this morning.
In an interview with Adam in Charlotte, Boxer said her “goal is to find a dependable funding source and to work in a bipartisan way to find that funding source. I really believe that the Highway Trust Fund should be funded through user fees.” That might include indexing the gas tax to inflation, but probably not a vehicle miles traveled fee, which raises privacy concerns for the California senator. Even a gas tax bump won’t be enough if vehicles keep getting more and more efficient.
Reformers have some ideas for the next bill, too. Making the Highway Trust Fund self-sustaining is a good goal, since a strapped fund leads to some really bad ideas, like jettisoning mass transit and even the tiny sliver of the pie allocated to active transportation. Putting national goals like emissions reductions and public health improvement front and center would help too — as long as real performance measures are attached.
In any event, that was a quick honeymoon period. If you thought you were going to have at least six months to rest on your laurels before getting back into the ring to fight for a better bill next time around: Surprise! It’s game time.