County Executives Oppose Portman Amendment

Counties that rely on businesses for tax revenues will be hard pressed to make up significant budgetary shortfalls if the Senate allows commercial rest areas when it votes tomorrow on the amendments to the highway bill, according to the County Executives of America (CEA).

In a letter urging Senators to vote against Amendment #1742 of the highway transportation bill, S. 1813, CEA said commercial rest areas would kill existing interstate-exit based businesses and damage tax revenues.

“County budgets are already strained,” CEA said.  “This initiative would simply shift state budget issues over to the local level.”

In many rural communities, gas stations, restaurants, convenience stores and truck stops represent the largest local taxpayers, contributing more than $22.5 billion in state and local taxes. These funds help to support schools, police and fire departments and other vital public services.

If state governments are permitted to set up shop along the shoulder of the highway, the state government essentially will become the largest competitor of local business owners, CEA said. With an unfair advantage on the highway shoulder, state governments will draw away drivers who typically would exit the interstate and enter local communities to buy food, fuel and other retail items. Ultimately, existing businesses will not be able to compete against these state rest areas; and many won’t survive.

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