Senator Hatch discusses Highway Trust Fund Bill

WASHINGTON (ABC 4 Utah) The United States Senate approved a bill that will fund roads, bridges and rails across the nation for the next three years.

The bill authorizes spending for six years but only pays for three of them. Funding comes from 45 billion in tax payer dollars as well as money from the federal gas tax.

The bill got support and criticism from both sides of the aisle. Senator Orrin Hatch weighed on Thursday's vote and other topics regarding transportation in Utah.

Hatch: First I thought the House should’ve taken this bill because it is an answer but it’s too take to get them to take it, but they did come down off of their other approach which was to pretty much towards the end of the year and try to work out a more difficult deal with the Democrats. This way, what happens is we give them a little bit more time and then they come up with different pay forms than we come up with but we’ll be interested in that as well. But hopefully we’ll go to conference between the House and the Senate and we'll’ hopefully resolve this in the best interest of the American people.

Q: Talk about the transportation for Utah-
Hatch: This transportation is extremely important and as you know, I’ve worked very hard to find the monies that will pay for it and we found enough that will take us through almost six years. On the other hand, to get it by the Democrats, the Majority leader was only able to work out three years, but that’s still three big years and more than anything we’ve had in the last three years, more than just patching it every time we turn around. In Utah’s case, 13% of our highways and roads are in bad shape and we need to fix those up. We’re worried about people’s health, we’re worried about people being in accidents, and we’re worried about the well-over $400 a year of cost to cars for having to travel on those roads. We’ve got other needs in Utah that just need to be done for us and this is a very important bill for us and it’s very important for the whole country and they didn’t think we could find the money, but we did and we didn’t want to increase taxes to pay for it. And this way, we found a way to pay for it. Some of the pays ways I’m less enthusiastic about than others, but nevertheless, our job is to find as many pay forces as we could just to try and resolve. Just because we did something the Democrats didn’t think we could do, it shook them up a little and in the end they had to vote for this.

Q: Looking forward, should Utahns be confident this long-term bill will pass in the fall?

Hatch: It should, but it’s going to take getting this done with the House, and if they take our bill, we wouldn’t have to go to Conference, but I think they’ll do a different bill but hopefully along the same lines, and then we’ll go to conference and hopefully resolve the same issues there are between the House and Senate and then go from there. I think this is a step in the right direction because we’ve been patching these roads bills for a long time and that’s not the way to do it. It doesn’t give the companies enough time to look ahead and plan ahead and do the things they need to do to do good road work. It costs more to keep playing around with it. It’s better to do what we’ve done and that is a multi-year bill, for the first time in a long time over ten years that really will work.

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