Engineering Inc. - September/October 2014 - (Page 4)

Legislative Action Member Firm Action Supports Cash Accounting President Signs Highway Trust Fund Patch Into Law; ACEC Decries 'Band-Aid' Approach A 4 ENGINEERING INC. SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2014 House Spending Bill Includes Major Cuts to Water Programs; ACEC Works to Restore Funding T he House Appropriations Committee has approved legislation to fund the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2015 that includes major cuts to the State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs that support water and wastewater projects. The bill would fund the Clean Water SRF program at $261 million and the Drinking Water SRF at $757 million. Combined, these totals are $1.36 billion less than the enacted 2014 levels for the programs. ACEC is lobbying congressional leaders to increase funding levels for these vital infrastructure programs. The bill would fund EPA at $7.5 billion in 2015, a 9 percent cut from fiscal 2014. It includes $75 million for Superfund grants but provides zero funding for brownfields infrastructure projects. While the full House might vote on the measure in September, the Senate is not expected to take up this or other spending bills until after the November elections. BANKSPHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES DAVID BANKS/BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES T he president has signed legislation cleared by Congress to transfer $10.8 billion into the Highway Trust Fund and extend MAP-21 highway and transit funding through May 2015. The legislation (H.R. 5021) averts a funding shortfall that would have forced the U.S. Department of Transportation to delay and ration project reimbursement payments to states. ACEC joined with business groups, transportation users, safety advocates and other Rep. Bill Shuster stakeholders in supporting a (R-Pa.) short-term patch, while also calling for a long-term funding solution. "The U.S. economy requires a surface transportation infrastructure network that can keep pace with growing demands," the group wrote in a letter to Congress. "A long-term federal commitment to prioritize and invest in our aging infrastructure and safety needs is essential to achieve this goal." The Council worked to defeat an amendment from Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) to phase down the federal gas tax and turn over funding responsibility to the states. ACEC has consistently opposed these so-called "devolution" proposals, which weaken robust federal infrastructure investment. The Lee amendment "undermines more than 50 years of federal commitment to transportation infrastructure and places an unbearable burden on states," ACEC President Dave Raymond wrote in a letter to every senator. The Lee amendment was soundly rejected 28-69. Raymond also participated in a strategy session on next steps with Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee. Raymond supported Carper's proposal to deal with long-term transportation funding this year rather than wait until next year. "The patch is a Band-Aid when the patient really needs major surgery to survive," said Raymond. The Senate initially voted to shorten the extension to end on December 2014, which would have forced action in a postelection lame duck session. The effort, led by Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), was rejected by the House. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said the extension to next May will provide stability to state programs, while giving Congress time to work on a long-term solution. CEC grassroots action prompted strong support in the Senate for the preservation of cash accounting for engineering firms and other businesses. At the request of the Council and other business groups, Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Angus King (I-Maine) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) circulated a letter to senators expressing opposition to imposing restrictions on the use of cash accounting. ACEC members contacted their senators in support of the bipartisan letter, generating 46 co-signers. The letter was drafted in response to a tax reform proposal that would limit the use of cash accounting to firms with less than $10 million in revenues and sole proprietors. ACEC embarked on a similar effort last year, and 71 members of the House of Representatives signed a bipartisan letter in support of retaining the cash method of accounting for engineering firms and other businesses. Proposals affecting cash accounting and other tax code changes have been discussed in the context of broader reforms to the tax code. While action by Congress on tax reform is not expected this year, ACEC and its business community allies are working to shape the thinking of lawmakers in advance of future action.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Engineering Inc. - September/October 2014

Engineering Inc. - September/October 2014
From ACEC to You
Legislative Action
Market Watch
Evolution of Excellence
Big on Data, Long on Promise
Deep-Rooted Designs
Energy Boom
Reality Check
Business Insights
2014 Fall Conference
Members in the News
Mergers and Acquisitions

Engineering Inc. - September/October 2014