U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison R – TX in announcing her co-sponsorship of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) bill told her constituents that “Texas’s ports play an important role in moving commerce throughout our nation. Each year over 500 million tons of cargo move through our state’s seaports. This flow keeps over a million Texans employed and accounts for more than $135 billion in economic value.”
“The economic prosperity of our state and nation depend on the viability of our harbor and port system which serves as a gateway to markets around the world” she continued. “But in order to maintain their vitality we must ensure that the money from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund is spent on projects to maintain and repair ports these vibrant channels of commerce and not wasted on other unrelated projects.”
While HMTF revenues have steadily increased harbor maintenance appropriations since 2003 have stagnated resulting in a growing backlog of critical harbor maintenance. Because the revenues and expenditures of the HMTF are part of the overall budget if the trust fund does not spend all of its revenues the “surplus” helps offset deficits in the rest of the general budget.
The statement concluded “The HMTF legislation sponsored by Senator Hutchison includes a guarantee that requires that the total amount appropriated from the HMTF each year be equal to the trust fund receipts plus interest as estimated by the President’s budget for that year. If an appropriations bill spending HMTF revenue that does not meet this requirement is brought to the House or Senate any member would be able to make a point of order against it and the bill would not be allowed to be considered in that form without an overriding vote on specifically spending less than the projected annual HMTF revenue and interest.|!|