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Archive for the ‘Innovation Newsbriefs’ Category

States’ Fiscal Initiatives Offer a Solution to the Impending Trust Fund Shortfall

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 8

While transportation stakeholders and the Washington press corps are agonizing about the impending Highway Trust Fund shortfall and its impact on the federal transportation program, they are ignoring developments outside the Beltway that go a long way toward mitigating the prospective funding shortage. For in fact, individual states, far from standing idly by, are responding to the fiscal uncertainties in Washington by stepping up and augmenting their transportation budgets.

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Hopes for a Long-Term Transportation Bill Are Fading

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 7
With federal transportation spending outpacing tax receipts by some $1.25 billion/month, the cash balance of the Federal Highway Trust is drawing perilously close to the point where the U.S Department of Transportation will be obliged to institute cash management strategies—such as slowing down or delaying state reimbursements — to keep the Trust Fund account solvent. Based on current spending and revenue trends, this point —a cash balance of $4 billion in the Highway Account —will be reached in late July according to the latest U.S. DOT estimate However, CBO estimates that “both the highway account and the transit account will end the end of the fiscal year with a positive balance” according to an April 14 memo from the Congressional Budget Office (Subject: CBO’s Highway Trust Fund Runs, April Baseline)

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US DOT Unveils Details of Proposed Administration Transportation Bill

Friday, May 9th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 6
For all its stirring of discussion on a myriad of important policy issues, this proposed legislation demonstrates at a core level that the revenue necessary for any such bill is nearly impossible to add up in a way that is both fiscally plausible and politically palatable in the current moment. The “details” the Administration is providing come with an important asterisk (*), denoting the blank slate it ascribes to something called “corporate tax reform,” the very pillar on which the rest of the proposed bill is supposed to stand. As such, the funding plan is not considered to be a serious proposal, but rather a place-holder designed to prompt a “dialogue” with Congress on funding, while encouraging others to come up with something that is more politically realistic in this election year.

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As the Highway Trust Fund Runs Low on Cash, States Come to the Rescue with Creative Funding Initiatives

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 5
With federal transportation spending outpacing tax receipts by some $1.25 billion/month, the cash balance of the Federal Highway Trust is drawing perilously close to the point where the U.S Department of Transportation will be obliged to institute cash management strategies—such as reimbursing states weekly rather than on a daily basis— to keep the Trust Fund account solvent. Based on current spending and revenue trends, this point —a cash balance of $4 billion—may be reached as early as late July according to some estimates.

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Rethinking the Way Transportation Infrastructure Is Funded

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 3A
It may come as a surprise to you, but there is a quiet revolution in transportation funding underway these days. Faced with a depleted Highway Trust Fund and uncertain prospects for more money from a deficit-conscious Congress, many states are taking matters into their own hands and aggressively pursuing more fiscal independence.

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California’s Bullet Train Hobbled by Fresh Legal, Fiscal and Political Uncertainties

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 2
Barely recovered from the damaging effects of the Sacramento Court ruling denying the California High Speed Rail Authority access to Prop 1A bond funding, the bullet train project has had to face fresh challenges.

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States’ Growing Role in Funding the Nation’s Transportation Infrastructure

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 1
As we enter the new year (celebrating our 25th year of publication), and as the deadline for reauthorization of the surface transportation program draws closer, those who want the new bill to sharply increase federal spending for transportation face a vexing reality. The Highway Trust Fund, a vital source of support for the federal surface transportation program for over half a century, no longer can keep up with the nation’s growing transportation needs. A combination of more fuel-efficient cars, rising CAFE standards and consumer embrace of hybrid vehicles has kept gas tax revenue stagnant, throwing the Trust Fund out of balance with the rising demand for transportation funds. A possible decline in per capita travel could cause the future imbalance to grow even larger.

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A Major Setback for California’s High Speed Train

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 24, No. 16
The future of the California High Speed Rail project hangs in a precarious balance as a result of two rulings handed down by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny on November 25. “The Judge’s ruling will prevent the [California High-Speed Rail] Authority from spending bond measure funds for construction until the funding plan is brought into compliance,” said Michael Brady co- lead attorney on the case…The Authority’s Chairman, Dan Richard, tried to cast the Court decision in a more positive light. “The judge did not invalidate the bonds as approved by the voters,” he said. “Like all transformative projects, we understand that there will be many challenges that will be addressed as we go forward in building the nation’s first high-speed rail system.”

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Financing Transportation Infrastructure the Traditional Way

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 24, No. 15
…a transition from federal funding to public and private financing of new transportation infrastructure is already well underway —and it is likely to continue and grow given persistent deficits and pressures to reduce federal discretionary spending. Automatic sequester cuts which are to rise from $84 billion in 2013 to $109 billion in 2014, could place ever tighter constraints on government’s ability to increase spending for infrastructure in the years ahead.

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How to Avert a Transportation Funding Crisis

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 24, No. 13 (update)
In the longer run, greater state fiscal autonomy and financial sophistication could modify the federal-state relationship in transportation. There would be less need for direct financial aid to state DOTs and more emphasis on credit assistance to support transportation investments of truly national scope and significance. (High-Speed Rail in the Northeast Corridor comes to mind). At the same time, federal oversight of state transportation programs could be reduced to reflect the smaller federal fiscal footprint.

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