Washington, D.C. — The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) today backed a provision in the U.S. Senate by Senators Max Baucus (D–Mont.) and Chuck Grassley (R–Iowa) that would prevent the Highway Trust Fund from going into the red by restoring $5 billion in revenue for Fiscal Year 2009.

"Failure to pass the Baucus/Grassley fix will reduce highway funding to states by 32 percent—about $16 billion. The Baucus/Grassley provision will ensure that the Highway Trust Fund does not go into deficit next year," said AGC's chief executive officer Stephen E. Sandherr.

AGC supports this reauthorization bill, which provides more investment dollars for aviation and highway infrastructure. The proposal helps states fund projects facing increasing materials costs as highway and bridge construction has increased 56 percent since December 2003.

"The provision will create and preserve jobs and make the U.S. more competitive," noted Sandherr who spoke during a news conference today on Capitol Hill led by Baucus and Grassley.

The funding would add more construction jobs to the weakened economy. With fewer contracts to bid, contractors have less work and therefore must reduce their pay rolls. Department of Labor statistics report highway and street construction employment peaked in January 2007 and has seen a 3.2 percent decrease in construction employment over the past 15 months. America must stay competitive and a strong transportation system is a key to that success. Without the Baucus/Grassley fix there is the potential to place the U.S. further behind in addressing the nation's transportation deficit.

AGC has also warned Congress against passing an ill–advised gas tax moratorium, which would choke off highway investment dollars and put at risk 295,000 transportation construction and related jobs. Senator Barack Obama (D–Ill.) is the only presidential candidate to oppose a gas tax holiday.

"At least one presidential candidate has it right; Senator Obama saw that a gas tax holiday didn't work in Illinois and knows that it won't work nationwide," added Sandherr.

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) is the largest and oldest national construction trade association in the United States. AGC represents 33,000 firms, including 7,500 of America's leading general contractors and 12,500 specialty–contracting firms. More than 13,000 service providers and suppliers are associated with AGC through a nationwide network of chapters. Visit the AGC Web site at AGC members are "Building Your Quality of Life."