Skinner Affirms Federal Role in Transport

Associated Press

The federal government still will have a "very major" role in transportation programs, despite a Bush Administration proposal that would shift more spending to the state and local level, Transportation Secretary Samuel K. Skinner said Sunday.

Skinner, whose national transportation plan last week was criticized by transport industries and some members of Congress, defended the proposed increase in user fees and local gas taxes that would raise costs for travelers and shippers.

Interviewed on NBC-TV's "Meet the Press," Skinner said that decreases in federal funding would apply primarily to projects that benefit local economies and private businesses.

Skinner said more than 33 states already have raised gas taxes or found some independent funding source for transportation. The 9-cent federal gas tax will continue to support transportation, he said.

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