The Great Lakes Governors have applauded recently introduced legislation in Congress that would "permanently fix the nation’s dysfunctional funding programme to maintain ports and harbours."
The governors pledged their support for the Realize America's Maritime Promise (RAMP) Act, HR 335, and commended the sponsors for their leadership in introducing this bill.
Once enacted, the legislation will immediately help to put Americans to work on improving ports and harbors, while representing a long-term investment to enhance both the nation’s and the region’s global economic competitiveness.
Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan, Co-Chair of the Council of Great Lakes Governors, said: “I applaud the Congressmen for working to enact what is really a simple solution to a major problem - actually spending funds already collected for the purpose of harbour maintenance on harbour maintenance.
"This solution is critical for our region’s ports and harbours, and for the national economy.”
Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois, Co-Chair of the Council of Great Lakes Governors, said, “Congress must act to provide relief to our harbours. Drought and low water levels have created a crisis that is only compounded by the failure to spend federal funds that have already been collected and set aside for just this purpose.”
The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) was created in 1986 to establish a dedicated funding source for dredging and other required maintenance coastal harbours. Cargo vessels are assessed a user fee on imported and domestic cargo arriving at US ports and harbours.
Recent annual revenue from these fees has totaled about US$1.5 billion, but only about half of that amount has been spent on its intended purpose. This trend has led to inadequate dredging of harbours and ports, which forces ships to carry lighter cargo loads and increases the cost per ton to move cargo.
As the Great Lakes water levels reach historic lows, this problem has been exacerbated and hindered job creation, economic growth and competitiveness.