03/16/12 Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) Wednesday voted against the two-year, $109 billion Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill.

“Improving America’s infrastructure is a top priority, but Congress must find ways to pay for this spending rather than pile on more debt,” said Coats. “Although the federal highway program needs to be funded, this legislation puts Indiana at a disadvantage, fails to reform our broken highway system and spends beyond our nation’s means.

“The Highway Trust Fund should not be used to reward states who collected earmarks while punishing those who refused to play the game,” added Coats. “This business as usual approach in Washington must come to an end. Congress should be reevaluating the way it spends taxpayer dollars to ensure fairness, efficiency and cost-savings.”

The highway bill, which passed the Senate 74 to 22, locks in the precedent that so-called “winner states” will continue to receive more than their fair share of highway funding while traditional “donor” states like Indiana will continue to receive a reduced share. If a state received fewer highway funds and earmarks over the last several years, that state will continue to receive a reduced share. Senator Coats offered an amendment that would have allowed Indiana and other states to receive the same percentage of available highway funding as each state’s citizens contribute when they pay gas taxes at the pump. The Coats amendment did not receive the 50 votes needed to pass the Senate.

The Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill also violates the discretionary spending caps established last summer when Congress passed the Budget Control Act.