- - Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Congressional gridlock eases on road programs

The congressional gridlock that has tied up federal highway programs for years is loosening — a little.

Rep. John L. Mica of Florida, the Republican chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, outlined to reporters Wednesday a $230 billion, six-year highway, transit and rail construction bill he plans to introduce this month.

In the Senate, a key committee chairman, Democrat Barbara Boxer of California, said she is pursuing a two-year, $109 billion bill.

Transportation construction programs have limped along under eight temporary funding extensions since 2009, when the last long-term funding bill expired. Two commissions studying transportation have warned that if the U.S. doesn’t sharply increase spending to repair and improve its infrastructure, the nation faces a future of nightmarish congestion.

Current highway program authority expires Sept. 30.


Government shutdown costing taxpayers millions

ST. PAUL — A six-day-old government shutdown in Minnesota is costing taxpayers millions — a toll that will only rise the longer it lasts.

The nation’s only government shutdown already means that people aren’t spending their normal $1.25 million a week on lottery tickets. State auditors aren’t pursuing tax cheats. And 22,000 laid-off state workers are expected to start collecting unemployment checks next week.

State officials won’t be able to calculate the full cost until the shutdown ends.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative Republicans are still divided over raising taxes and cutting spending as they seek to erase a $5 billion deficit.

The government closure also threatens to slow an already sluggish economic recovery as those who lose state-dependent jobs tighten their spending.


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