Proposed FY 2014 White House budget calls for 5.5 percent increase in DOT funding
April 11, 2013
While specific funding mechanisms for transportation infrastructure-related efforts remain murky, proposed funding for the Department of Transportation (DOT) in the White House’s proposed fiscal year 2014 budget is heading up.
The budget, which was released Tuesday, April 10, is calling for a total of $76.6 billion in discretionary and mandatory budget resources for the DOT, representing a 5.5 percent increase—or $4 billion—above the 2012, enacted level, according to the White House.
Key DOT-related components of the proposed budget include:
-an additional $50 million in immediate investments in 2014 to support critical infrastructure projects, improving America’s roads, bridges, transit systems, border crossings, railways, and runways, including $40 billion in “Fix-it-First” investments for improving existing infrastructure assets and $10 billion to spur state and local innovation in infrastructure development;
-a five-year, $40 billion rail reauthorization program to improve existing intercity passenger rail services, develop new high speed rail corridors and strengthen the economic competitiveness of our new freight rail system;
-fully fund the authorized funding levels provided in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) for surface transportation programs; and
-reserve funding after MAP-21’s expiration in 2015 for robust, long-term reauthorization of surface transportation programs, including a 25 percent increase from current funding levels, among others.
The budget said that this spending level pays for the rail and surface transportation proposals with “savings from ramping down overseas military operations,” adding that because rebuilding the Nation’s infrastructure is an immediate need, the budget uses near-term savings from reduced overseas operations to fully offset the long-term reauthorization proposals. These savings would offset baseline Highway Trust Fund solvency needs, the out-year surface transportation reauthorization allowance and the rail reauthorization proposal.
While this proposed DOT budget is ambitious on various fronts, funding still remains an issue and the White House is laying out a plan for a national transportation program in the context that funding increases for surface transportation do not increase the deficit, according to Mort Downey, Coalitions for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC) Chairman former deputy Transportation Secretary under President Bill Clinton.
“Republicans in Congress want to know where are the transportation-related taxes to pay for it are coming from,” Downey told LM. “It would be good if they commit to spend the money committed to transportation if it was raised, but it cannot be guaranteed. There is still the question of will this go anywhere or will it fall through the cracks due to the heavy partisanship that exists? At least there are some good arguments out there.”
Regardless of the potential outcome, Downey said that overall transportation policy in the last two years has taken better shape from an improving public works perspective than it previously has.
The proposed DOT budget was blasted by the American Trucking Associations (ATA), whom said that it fails to provide adequate detail and direction for how the country should pay for its infrastructure needs.
“The backbone of our economy is the asphalt, steel and concrete of our roads and bridges,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said in a statement, adding that “proposals to fund those roads should be equally concrete. For five years, we’ve waited for President Obama to clearly state how we should pay for these critical needs and, I’m sad to say, we continue to get lip service about the importance of roads and bridges with no real roadmap to real funding solutions.”
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