At the end of last week, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., wrote U.S. Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg urging the department to prioritize projects that keep Americans safe, while boosting the return on investment for every taxpayer dollar. In his letter, Scott highlighted the need for the department to address the insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund without raising taxes on the American people.
Scott’s letter is below.
Dear Secretary Buttigieg,
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me prior to your confirmation about your priorities for the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). I appreciate discussing the Biden Administration’s views on ensuring a positive return on investment for federal infrastructure projects, addressing the insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund and my legislation, the RIDE Act, to prevent drunk driving, which takes thousands of innocent lives each year.
As you begin your role as secretary, one of your top priorities must be ensuring that every dollar spent by USDOT provides a sufficient return on investment for American taxpayers. As governor of Florida, I oversaw record transportation investments in my state’s infrastructure, highways and seaports. These projects had a direct positive benefit on Florida’s growing economy and incentivized even more business and job creation throughout the Sunshine State. USDOT has a tremendous opportunity to replicate this success at the federal level by finding new ways to be efficient and ensuring projects are completed on time and on budget.
During your testimony before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, I asked you about the insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund, which is almost entirely funded by revenue generated by federal gas taxes. In your response, you supported increasing the gas tax and have on other occasions signaled support for other taxes; including a vehicle miles traveled tax on electric vehicles. I will never support a tax increase on American families, especially one that disproportionally hurts low and fixed-income households. The USDOT must resist advocating for unfair tax increases and find an alternative solution that properly addresses the Highway Trust Fund’s financial issues.
Each year, thousands of Americans are killed on our roads due to the reckless decisions of drunk drivers. Each one of these tragic deaths is 100 percent preventable and it is far past time to take action that increases road safety. Last Congress, I was proud to introduce the RIDE Act with Senator Tom Udall, which would require USDOT, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to implement a timeline that would require blood alcohol testing technology in all new vehicles. For more than 10 years, Congress has provided millions annually to the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety Program to develop blood alcohol testing technology. It is time for American taxpayers to see a return on their investment and for USDOT to work in concert with the private sector to implement this technology. I hope that you will do everything possible to expedite this process. American lives depend on it.
American families and businesses depend on the USDOT to work every day to keep our roads and skies safe, and goods moving smoothly throughout our nation. As you begin your new role, there is great opportunity for you and the Biden Administration to enhance the service USDOT provides while boosting the return on investment for every taxpayer dollar spent. I hope we are able to work together to address the important issues facing Americans and improve infrastructure across the United States.