During a recent webcast presented by The Council of State Governments in collaboration with The Griffith Insurance Education Foundation, experts discussed vehicle telematics technology and its impact on the insurance industry.

Despite concerns about the long-term solvency and sustainability of the federal highway trust fund, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation or FAST Act passed by Congress in December 2015 did not include what many said was a much needed increase in the federal gas tax, which has remained unchanged since 1993. Congress instead offset a transfer of general funds to supplement gas tax revenues by tapping a Federal Reserve surplus fund among other sources. The action came at the end of a year in which eight states did raise their own gas taxes. With the fuel efficiency of the nation’s vehicle fleet improving and the greater adoption of electric vehicles on the horizon, some states are also looking to a new revenue mechanism that some believe could one day replace the gas tax—a mileage-based user fee. Concerns about how the fees would be administered and whether it could ever be done as efficiently as the gas tax are causing doubts it will be ready in time to help fund the next long-term iteration of the federal program when the FAST Act expires in 2020.

New Jersey policymakers face a July 1 deadline to come up with a way to avert the impending insolvency of the state’s Transportation Trust Fund. Meanwhile, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy agreed last month to divert $50 million in sales tax revenues intended for his state’s Special Transportation Fund to help close a $1 billion budget deficit for the 2017 fiscal year. Such diversions have become commonplace in Connecticut and other states. Last December, Malloy called for a constitutional “lockbox” to prevent future diversions as a number of states have employed, but lawmakers could not agree this spring to put the measure on the November ballot. These stories return the spotlight to trust funds and lockboxes, which were the subject of a CSG Capitol Research brief last year.

Next month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expected to issue what is being billed as a model state policy as well as “best-practice guidance to industry on establishing principles of safe operation for fully autonomous vehicles.” Then, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) will follow suit with more detailed guidelines and materials in support of the policy this fall. Those two documents are likely to kick off what many believe will be a busy couple of years at the state and federal levels in determining how driverless vehicles will take the roads and the complex policy changes that may be needed to accommodate them. But while many states anxiously await that guidance, a couple are already making moves to accelerate the autonomous future in significant ways.

Aubrey Layne is the secretary of transportation for the Commonwealth of Virginia and serves as the 2016 vice-chair of the CSG Transportation Public Policy Committee. He delivered a keynote address May 19 to state legislators from around the country attending the 6th Annual CSG Transportation Leaders Policy Academy in Washington, D.C. He spoke about the Commonwealth’s recent efforts to reform its processes around transportation project prioritization and public-private partnerships.

The transportation policy roundtable during the 2016 CSG Transportation Leaders Policy Academy in Washington, D.C. wrapped up with a panel discussion on the future of the federal-state-local partnership on transportation. The panelists included Emil Frankel and Jeff Davis of the Eno Center for Transportation, Joe McAndrew of Transportation for America and Brigham McCown of the Alliance for Innovation & Infrastructure. They discussed what the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act means for states, what happens after it expires in 2020, how states might be encouraged to innovate more on transportation funding, and why it’s important for federal and state governments to invest in better transportation projects in the future.

Ed Mortimer is executive director of transportation infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and leads the Americans for Transportation Mobility, or ATM, Coalition as its executive director. He was among the presenters at a policy roundtable CSG hosted on May 19 as part of the 6th Annual CSG Transportation Leaders Policy Academy in Washington. He spoke about the importance of infrastructure to the business community, the importance of Congress seeing progress on transportation projects under the FAST Act, the importance of maintaining existing infrastructure and efforts to consolidate federal transportation programs.

Joung Lee is the policy director at the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials in Washington, D.C. He was among the presenters at a policy roundtable CSG hosted on May 19 as part of the 6th Annual CSG Transportation Leaders Policy Academy in Washington. He spoke about the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act approved by Congress last year and its impact for states as well as the need for Congress to find a long-term solution to the solvency of the federal Highway Trust Fund.

Alison Premo Black, Ph.D., is senior vice president for policy and chief economist at the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) in Washington, D.C. In addition, she serves as deputy managing director of the Contractors Division and manages the Transportation Investment Advocacy Center. She was among the presenters at a policy roundtable CSG hosted on May 19 as part of the 6th Annual CSG Transportation Leaders Policy Academy in Washington. She spoke about the resources ARTBA offers to transportation advocates, the level of state transportation funding activity in recent years, the gas tax as a revenue source and Congress’ continuing quest for a long-term solution to maintain the federal Highway Trust  Fund.

Brian Pallasch is the managing director for government relations and infrastructure initiatives at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in Washington, D.C. He was among the presenters at a policy roundtable CSG hosted on May 19 as part of the 6th Annual CSG Transportation Leaders Policy Academy in Washington. During these excerpts from his remarks, he talks about ASCE’s recent report “Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment Gap for America’s Economic Future.” He also discusses the importance of factoring in operations and maintenance costs and the overall lifecycle costs of projects as the investment price tag is considered, how much the federal gas tax would need to go up and how much individuals might have to pay on a daily basis to close the infrastructure investment gap, and whether public-private partnerships might help to close the gap.

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