Representatives of the construction equipment industry are rallying in Washington, D.C. today to call for action on federal funding for transportation projects. Dennis Slater, president of Association of Manufacturers, says they are worried lawmakers are overlooking the bill.
He says the goal is to raise awareness as the six-year highway bill has just expired and the extension of the bill is set to expire at the end of the week. Slater says funding for roads will come to a “screeching halt” and the economic depression in the industry will continue. Slater says Iowa has a big stake in the issue.
Slater says Iowa, because of it’s manufacturing base, ranks in the top 10 for economic base output loss in the industry, losing 3.17 billion dollars this year. He says the number of construction jobs lost in Iowa is dramatic.
He says Iowa isn’t in the top ten for job loses, but the state is fourth in the percentage of jobs lost in the construction industry. Slater says he’s talked to a market-leading paving equipment manufacturer in Iowa that has seen the market decline 50-percent in the last year. Iowa received millions in federal funds for flood recovery and the stimulus package — but Slater says that doesn’t help the long-term issue.
Slater says both the flood recovery and stimulus money have short term impact, while the highway bill is a six-year plan that lets states schedule improvements to their roads. Slater says the association would like to see another short term extension, and then see legislators approve a new bill this spring. Slater says the administration favors an 18-month extension, but he says that would only put off the problem and leave uncertainty in the industry.