Bush budget calls for new barge fees
Washington, D.C. – The Bush administration wants to impose a new user fee on commercial barges to help pay for the soaring cost of maintaining the nation's river channels.
But barge operators say they already pay steep taxes to keep the Mississippi River and other waterways navigable.
The proposal in President Bush's $2.9 trillion budget does not specify how fees would be assessed.
The barge industry is gearing up for a fight.
Barge operators now pay a tax of 20 cents per gallon on diesel fuel that goes into a waterway trust fund for construction projects.
But the money in that fund is dwindling as spending to repair aging locks goes up.