The chairman of Salina–based C&S Companies calls a meeting he attended at the White House last week on transportation infrastructure valuable for upstate New York.
“I think it’s important that our region have input at the national level into these types of programs and decisions,” says Orrin MacMurray, C&S chairman, who was in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 22 for a White House Business Council forum focused on transportation infrastructure. “They definitely affect the economy of Central New York.”
The forum, which lasted about four hours, brought together 15 federal officials from various departments and about 25 representatives from businesses and chambers of commerce from around the country, MacMurray says. Alan Krueger, the chairman of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, represented the White House, while the leading official attending from the U.S. Department of Transportation was Deputy Secretary John Porcari, MacMurray says.
Topics of discussion ranged from highway and bridge programs to ports, MacMurray adds. The meeting covered the administration’s transportation efforts and the way the nation’s transportation system affects its economy.
“It was a meeting where everyone had an opportunity to be heard, and there was quite a lot of dialogue,” MacMurray says. “I focused most of my energy on a discussion on some of the things we should be doing to go forward.”
MacMurray advocated for what he called a sustainable funding structure for surface transportation. Because of increases in automobile fuel efficiency, the average driver pays about 14 percent less in federal gas taxes today than in 1993, he says.
The average driver in New York state currently pays about $26 per month in state and federal gas taxes, he says. He compared that sum to his satellite television bill of $115 per month.
“Compared to what we are willing to spend on these other services, $26 a month in order to have a state and federal highway system is remarkably underfunded,” he says.
MacMurray attended the meeting after the White House invited CenterState CEO to send a representative. He sits on CenterState’s board of directors and considers himself an advocate on transportation, he says.
C&S is a group of companies specializing in a range of services, including transportation, civil infrastructure, construction, energy, and planning. It is headquartered at 499 Col. Eileen Collins Blvd. in Salina and employs a total of 450 people nationwide. It has about 350 employees in northern and Central New York and generated $86.2 million in revenue in 2011.
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