Budget Blog

Yesterday, Senator Murray met with port directors from across the country to discuss the nation’s critical and growing infrastructure deficit. This deficit affects the United States’ highways, transit systems, rail, ports, and more. It is hurting businesses, hurting commuters, hampering economic growth—and if investments aren’t made to tackling this problem now, it is only going to get worse.

The port directors Senator Murray met with see first-hand how infrastructure deficits impact people and businesses in communities across the across the country. Senator Murray talked to them about the work she did with Chairman Ryan to get a two-year budget deal that rolled back cuts from sequestration, prevented another government shutdown, and gave families and businesses some certainty after far too many years spent lurching from crisis to crisis.

Senator Murray also outlined some of the ways she would like to build on the two year budget to continue working to tackle the serious deficits the country is facing, from research and development to education, jobs, and infrastructure. 

Specifically, she talked to the group about policies that could support growth and investment in infrastructure, which can help ports remain competitive and help the communities and families they serve. 

Two policy items discussed were:

  • TIGER: TIGER is a model of the type of multimodal funding the federal government should be pursuing to support growth and investment. Numerous ports received grants through the TIGER program, which Senator Murray created as part of the Recovery Act. They thanked Senator Murray for her leadership and support of the program. The ports explained that TIGER is an important program which has helped them leverage other funding sources, including state, local, and private funds.
  • HMT: The U.S. must also take a hard look at existing federal programs which could be modernized to better support growth and investment. For example, the Harbor Maintenance Tax, in its current form, is hurting ports and holding the economy back. Ports simply can’t do business on a system based on commerce in 1986 and stay competitive in 2014 or beyond. Senator Murray sought to use her legislation – the Maritime Goods Movement Act – to engage in a discussion with these port directors about the need to create a new system to replace the HMT. Just like with the Bipartisan Budget Act, fixing the HMT system will require colleagues to sit down and have hard conversations to ensure all ports get the investments they desperately need. The ports recognized the need to modernize the Harbor Maintenance Tax system and that the status quo isn’t good for anyone.

Here are some tweets the Port of Tacoma sent out about this conversation:

@PortofTacoma: .'s John Mohr applauds 's efforts to try to bring into the "modern era."

@PortofTacoma: CEO John Wolfe among US port directors meeting with @PattyMurray today to discuss deficit in #infrastructure funding. ow.ly/i/51j7Q

@PortofTacoma: .@PattyMurray called for comprehensive #HMT reform & discussing benefits of Maritime Goods Movement Act. #MGMA