August 22, 2014

Cong. Smith: Federal transportation bill extension is expiring soon

Congressman Adrian Smith

Roads officials in Nebraska are waiting on concrete action on a new federal transportation bill, as the latest extensions will expire next month.

Nebraska Congressman Adrian Smith says a conference committee is working on a compromise for the $109-billion measure.

“We want a long-term solution and the devil’s in the details,” Smith says. “It’s in conference committee now. The Senate passed a version and the House passed a version, so the conference committee will meet, they’ve already met a little bit, but moving forward they’ll hash that out and propose something I hope will be much longer term than even the two years in the Senate bill.”

Smith says Congress missed a chance to use the transportation bill as an economic stimulus.

“What we should’ve done to stimulate the economy is passed the transportation bill three or four years ago and hastened these projects out into the economy,” he says. “That would’ve been a lot better economic stimulus, something that was going to be done already but put that on the fast track instead, but that’s 20-20 hindsight.”

Smith says details are still being worked out on the share that Nebraska will see for road construction.

“Optimally, we would allow all the dollars generated in Nebraska to stay in Nebraska,” he says. “Sometimes, Nebraska has been a net donor and a net recipient state, close to 100% but I think the less involvement by the federal government, the better.”

Smith made his comments at a Farm Bill hearing at the Corps of Discovery Welcome Center south of Yankton.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton