Washington: Obama Budget Proposes Changes for Transportation Funding

The Associated General Contractors has issued the following news release:

President Obama’s budget proposal for transportation includes many of the same ideas that the administration has proposed over the past several years, but none of which have been met with much support in Congress. Included in the transportation request for FY 2014 are more details on the $50 billion “Fix It First” initiative most recently proposed by the president in his State of the Union address.

While there is more detail on where the funds would be directed, there is no new detail on where the funds would come from; however the budget does talk about using the “peace dividend” resulting from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, the administration indicated in oral budget briefings that they would identify off-sets to pay for these increases; nevertheless, no new source of revenue has yet been identified.

Also proposed is reserve funding after the expiration of MAP-21 in 2015 for a long-term reauthorization of surface transportation programs. The budget also proposes to establish new accounts within the Highway Trust Funds (HTF) for Amtrak and high speed rail funds.

Fix It First: The budget proposes a supplemental $50 billion in funding for transportation facilities most in need of repair. The $50 billion request would be allocated as follows:Highways $25 BillionTransit $9 Billion ($6 billion for state-of-good-repair grants, $2.5 billion for transit capital formula grants, and $500 million for new starts)Passenger Rail $2 BillionAirports $2 BillionLand Ports of Entry $2 BillionInfrastructure Bank $10 Billion

Highways: The budget for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) would set the 2014 highway obligation ceiling at the MAP-21 level of $40.3 billion, up from $39.7 billion in FY 2013.

Transit: The budget proposes a base budget for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) of $10.910 billion in FY 2014, up from $10.578 billion in FY 2013. This includes the MAP-21 level of $8.595 billion for transit formula grants, but ups the MAP-21 request for the new starts capital grants program to $2.132 billion, which includes an additional $74 million from the general fund and $150.5 billion from unobligated prior year appropriations.

Airports: The budget proposes to cut the federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program funding from $3.35 billion to $2.9 billion. The administration, however, also calls for increasing the Passenger Facility Charge fee cap from $4.50 to $8.00.

Rail: The administration also continued to stress rail as its top priority by calling for a five-year $40 billion rail reauthorization. The budget proposes doubling total Amtrak appropriations from the FY 2013 pre-sequester level of $1.344 billion to $2.7 billion, while also proposing $3.66 billion in funding for new passenger rail corridors (high-speed and low-speed). This program did not receive funding in FY 2011, 2012 or 2013. The budget document proposes to create Amtrak and high speed rail accounts into the Highway Trust Fund. There was no suggestion as to where the revenue would come from for these two new accounts.

For more information please visit: http://news.agc.org/

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