I Make America Tour
‘I Make America Harley Tour’
promotes improved highways
By Ted Pennekamp
The nationwide “I Make America Harley Tour” to press the United States Legislature to pass a sensible and long-term highway funding bill stopped at Dillman Equipment in Prairie du Chien Tuesday.
Several officials toured Dillman Equipment, 34600 County K, and then addressed more than 100 Dillman Equipment employees prior to the serving of a delicious cookout lunch.
“We need a safe, modern infrastructure system,” said Dillman Equipment Vice President and General Manager Tony Schwab. “We need to send a clear message to pass a long term highway bill.”
The American Society of Civil Engineers gave U.S. roads an overall grade of “D” on its 2013 report card.
Schwab noted that the Highway Trust Fund faces continued shortfalls because of declining revenue from the gas tax, which has not kept up with the price of inflation or accounted for vehicles’ increasing fuel efficiency. Schwab said that Congress has been reluctant to increase the fuel tax and he called on Congress to do so. Schwab said that a modest increase in the fuel tax would cost each taxpayer a mere $1.88 per week and would get the Highway Trust Fund back to where it should be so that manufacturing companies can continue to move their products around the country efficiently.
United States Representative Ron Kind, Wisconsin Representative Lee Nerison, Iowa Senator Michael Breitbach and Trisha Schoof of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) all reiterated Schwab’s sentiments.
“We in Congress have a responsibility for a long term plan for infrastructure,” said Kind. “We can’t just keep kicking the can down the road with short-term solutions. We need good trade agreements in order to level the playing field to compete in the global market.” Kind said that is why he has called for a comprehensive, six-year transportation bill. Kind also noted that on July 10, he called on House Republican leadership to cancel August recess in order to work on a long-term plan for financing the Highway Trust Fund that would shore up the nation’s infrastructure and create hundreds of thousands of construction jobs. “We need an ‘I Make America’ agenda and we need to keep jobs here where they belong,” said Kind Tuesday morning at Dillman Equipment.
“We need better infrastructure at the federal and state levels,” said Nerison. Nerison called for support from Wisconsin residents in favor of a segregated transportation fund in Wisconsin. He noted that the state’s transportation fund has all too often in the past been raided and its money spent for other purposes. The vote on a segregated transportation fund comes up in November, said Nerison. “We need to keep that money where it is supposed to be,” he said.
Like the other speakers, Senator Breitbach praised the workers at Dillman Equipment and throughout the United States and also advocated for improved highways and infrastructure.
Trisha Schoof of AEM said that Congress needs to identify a bipartisan solution to make sure that the Highway Trust Fund is on sound fiscal footing for the future.
AEM spokespersons have said that AEM supports relying on the user-fee principle (that is, those who most take advantage of roads and highways should be most responsible for paying for their maintenance).
As part of the “I Make America Tour,” a custom-painted 2014 Harley-Davidson Road King has been traveling the country this year to advocate for public policies that advance the interests of employees, communities and companies of the equipment manufacturing industry.
At each stop, eligible employees and attendees of the event can sign up for a chance to win the custom-designed bike; the winner will be announced at AEM’s Annual Conference in November. The “I Make America Harley Tour” is part of the “I Make America” campaign, a broader advocacy effort by AEM. So far, “I Make America” has registered more than 36,000 grassroots supporters of pro-jobs manufacturing policies.
According to AEM, about one in six private sector jobs in the U.S. depends on the manufacturing base. AEM says that Congress can help to create business conditions that will grow the economy and U.S. manufacturing jobs by encouraging infrastructure investment, protecting U.S. farming and increasing American exports for the U.S. economy to keep pace with other countries.
AEM is a North American-based international trade group providing innovative business development resources to advance the equipment manufacturing industry in the global marketplace. AEM membership comprises more than 900 companies and more than 200 product lines in the agriculture, construction, forestry, mining and utility sectors worldwide. AEM is headquartered in Milwaukee, with offices in the world capitals of Washington, D.C.; Ottawa, Canada; and Beijing, China.
Dillman Equipment, a member of “I Make America” and AEM, supplies the asphalt industry with a complete line of asphalt plant equipment including asphalt storage silos, DuoDrum counterflow drum plants, coldfeed systems, recycle systems, baghouses, dust silos, air pollution control systems, portable silos, asphalt storage tanks, parts, used asphalt plant equipment and field services. Dillman also has an Industrial Sales Division which supplies agricultural and industrial equipment.