AAPA Applauds Senate Appropriators’ Prioritizing Port Waterside Infrastructure
HMT Spending Significantly Increased in FY 2016 Bill
The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), the unified voice of America's seaports, praised the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee for passing legislation that funds key provisions contained in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) enacted last year.
The Senate Energy & Water Appropriations bill would provide $1.254 billion from the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) Trust Fund to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for operations and maintenance (O&M) of federal navigation channels. This amount represents an 11.96 percent increase over the FY 2015 Cromnibus appropriation and meets the FY 2016 funding level outlined in WRRDA 2014 and advocated by AAPA through its "Hit the HMT Target" campaign. The AAPA campaign follows WRRDA 2014's 10-year plan to incrementally ratchet up spending of HMT tax revenues so that, by FY 2025, all HMT taxes collected will be fully spent.
In addition to providing the O&M funding, the legislation would address important tax fairness and donor equity issues by providing $50 million under Section 2106 of WRRDA 2014. This section provides funding for major HMT "donor" ports and "energy transfer" ports which are essential contributors to the economy and to the national security of the United States.
"AAPA appreciates the leadership of Senators Cochran (R-MS), Mikulski (D-MD), Alexander (R-TN), Feinstein (D-CA), Shelby (R-AL) and Murray (D-WA) in advancing legislation that brings our nation's funding decisions in line with the provisions of WRRDA 2014," said Kurt Nagle, AAPA president and CEO. "Meaningful support for our nation's ports has to come from those authorizing policy and those appropriating federal dollars. The Senate Appropriations Committee's action today is critical toward achieving the federal support that our nation's ports need to continue to serve as engines of economic growth and job creation."
A recently released economic impact study by Martin Associates found that port activity accounts for 26 percent of the U.S. economy, generates over 23 million jobs, and provides over $320 billion in tax revenues.
"With over a quarter of our economy accounted for by port cargo activity, it's vital that adequate investments are made in the infrastructure at, and connecting to, our nation's seaports to enhance our international competitiveness," added Mr. Nagle.
The House of Representatives passed its Energy & Water Appropriations bill on May 1. The House legislation also hit the targeted HMT funding level.