Federal Transportation Reauthorization
Monday, April 11, 3 p.m. EDT
The 2005 law authorizing federal surface transportation programs, known as SAFETEA-LU, expired in September 2009. In the interim, Congress has authorized a series of short-term extensions, but has yet to enact a new multi-year strategy. Whatever Congress decides will go a long way in determining whether America’s infrastructure will be ready to meet the demands of the 21st century economy. As state lawmakers confront an infrastructure system in dire need of repair, they also must recognize a desire to curb overall federal spending and widespread opposition to tax increases. Learn about the various proposals for reauthorizing federal transportation programs and how they may impact both state governments and the nation’s economic future.
Donna Cooper, senior fellow, Center for American Progress View Bio >>
Ronald Utt, Herbert and Joyce Morgan senior research fellow, Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies, The Heritage Foundation View Bio >>
Donna Cooper is a senior fellow at the Center for American Policy. From 2003 to 2010, she served as the secretary of policy and planning for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, where she led the design of an eight-year infrastructure improvement strategy for the state. That strategy included the acceleration of bridge repair, adding 1,000 additional bridges to the construction schedule over a five-year period. Cooper helped craft the state’s reform of its highway and transit funding system, which was predicated in part on entering into concession agreements to operate and maintain one or more of Pennsylvania’s interstates. Gov. Ed Rendell mounted a 12-month campaign with Cooper’s assistance to persuade the legislature to address a transit funding gap. In addition to working on surface transportation, she led the planning that resulted in more than $2 billion in new funds to improve drinking and waste water systems, kickstarted the state’s efforts to create a sound water strategy and led the effort to provide funds to increase the rate of repair of state owned dams, ensuring that all publicly owned high-hazard dams met safety standards before the end of the term.
Cooper’s recent work: “Our Infrastructure Challenge: Investment is Needed to Remain Globally Competitive.” (2/9/11)
Ronald Utt is the Herbert and Joyce Morgan senior research fellow for the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. At Heritage, Utt conducts research on housing, transportation and the federal budget. He also specializes in the application of privatization, restructuring, decentralization and devolution of government programs, and works in cooperation with scholars across the United States to evaluate the success and failure of policies for urban revitalization, land use and growth management. In the 1970s, he served as director of the Housing Finance Division at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and was senior economist at the Office of Management and Budget. In 1977, he became director of economic research at the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts. From 1980 to 1987, he served as associate chief economist of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In 1987, President Reagan appointed Utt to lead his administration’s efforts to promote the transfer of some federal government functions to the private sector. From 1989 to 1990, Utt served as Heritage’s senior fellow in political economy before being named executive vice president of the National Chamber Foundation, the research and education division of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Utt holds a doctorate in economics from Indiana University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Penn State University.
Utt’s recent work: “How to Create an Effective Transportation Program in an Age of Fiscal Austerity.” (1/24/11)