Letter to Senator Gore Concerning the Interstate Highway Program.
Dear Senator Gore:
This is in further reply to your letter of September sixteenth concerning the Federal Aid Highway Program and the annual apportionment of funds to the states.
Since enactment of the 1959 legislation this whole question has been the subject of careful consideration in the Executive establishment. In addition, as you know, on several recent occasions members of the Administration have discussed this problem in great detail with various representative groups of Governors.
Last January I recommended that the Congress increase the gas tax by 1 ½ cents to be effective July 1, 1959. This additional amount of money would have been sufficient to allow the highway program to continue at the accelerated rate which had been authorized in the 1958 highway legislation. However, enactment of a one-cent increase in the gas tax, with an effective date of October 1, 1959, has resulted in smaller revenue to the Highway Trust Fund than would have resulted from my request, and is directly responsible for the problem with which we are confronted today.
I should like to emphasize that this Administration fully intends promptly to honor bills presented to it by the various states. In studying ways to achieve this objective while still adhering to the legislative directive establishing the "pay-as-you-go" principle in the Highway Act of 1956, it became obvious that if we were to be equitable to all of the states we would need to schedule the use of the existing unobligated authorizations. Without such scheduling, which will apply only to the letting of new contracts, we would face the untenable alternative of serious disruption of the program in the fiscal year 1961. In my opinion, any other course of action would be fiscally irresponsible and certainly would not be consistent with proper management of a trust fund which is established for a specific purpose, particularly in the face of a Congressional decision to limit the increase in trust fund revenues to two-thirds of the amount requested.
If, as you have suggested, Congress takes further action at its next session to provide, in an acceptable manner, additional revenues for the Trust Fund, the scheduling now contemplated will be adjusted to meet the new situation. Lacking such action by Congress, it is clear to me that the orderly scheduling of new contracts is the only prudent and equitable course to follow.
With warm regard,
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
Note: The President's earlier letter (September 22) in reply to Senator Gore's letter of September 16 was not released by the White House.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Letter to Senator Gore Concerning the Interstate Highway Program. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234452