State and local lawmakers have been in crisis mode recently, as D.C. politicians try to figure out how to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent. But folks in Utah and Pennsylvania have a much less frenzied outlook than their counterparts in other states.
In Utah, federal funds make up only 20 percent of their total transportation budget. That’s why John Gleason, spokesman for the Utah Department of Transportation, says his state is better equipped than others to cope with cuts in federal funds.
In Pennsylvania, PennDOT spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick said, “We’re in a position where we don’t have to alter our plans; we can weather this immediate crisis.”
“It’s not socialism…We’re just building roads and bridges.”
That was President Obama’s argument today as he urged Congress to bail out the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF). In a letter sent to states yesterday, Obama’s transportation secretary Anthony Foxx “attempted to provides states with the most equitable, straightforward approach possible for managing this crisis.”
What exactly is the crisis?
In The Hill, Heritage’s Romina Boccia warns Congress not to make things worse at the Department of Veterans Affairs:
Part of the increase in cost would stem from more veterans enrolling in the VA system over time. The CBO estimates that there are about 8 million additional veterans who would qualify for veterans’ healthcare, but that are not participating in the current system. They are relying on Medicare, Medicaid, the military healthcare system, and private healthcare instead. The CBO estimates that at least one quarter of these veterans could be induced to enroll in the proposed system.
Moreover, the CBO assumes that today’s VA costs only cover about 30 percent of the healthcare received by the 8.4 million enrolled veterans. Those veterans are also expected to increase their use of VA healthcare by about 75 percent.
Although Congress’s current approach would only expand veterans’ access to private-sector care for two years, Congress may face pressure to extend the law’s provisions beyond that time horizon. The CBO also stresses that its estimates are preliminary. Much uncertainty remains over the effects Congress’s provisions would have.
The Heritage Foundation previously recommended that the VA should focus on the unique needs of military medicine. A recent Congressional Research Service fact sheet revealed that more than one out of every 10 VA patients is not a veteran, and the number of non-veterans using the VA’s healthcare services has increased faster in recent years than has the number of veteran patients. Scarce VA healthcare should first and foremost focus on deserving veterans.
Read the entire piece here.
Today, the Senate will consider an amendment by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Mike LeeSenate Republican Average98%
to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (H.R.803). The amendment would require the Department of Labor (DOL) to publish the results of their impact evaluations on their website for the public to see. It would also cut the pay of senior DOL officials if they ignore the requirement to conduct the evaluations.
The transparency and accountability provided by the Lee amendment are essential: The Heritage Foundation’s David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D. and James Sherk explain:
A few days after the newly minted Majority Leader announced he had no intention
of protecting the Ex-Im Bank, the Wall Street Journal delivered
some more bad news for its advocates.
In recent months, it seems Ex-Im has had to suspend or remove four top officials from their positions due to allegations of bribery, corporate favoritism, and other bureaucratic improprieties. The investigation’s targets include one high level employee by the name of Johnny Gutierrez, from Ex-Im’s short-term trade finance division, who ostensibly accepted “kickback” payments in exchange for helping to authorize financing for a Florida construction equipment company called Impex. According to the report: