From the National Journal Transportation Blog
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Transforming the Highway Trust Fund
“A single paragraph in the Transportation Department’s fiscal 2922 budget could fundamentally alter the funding mechanism for highways and other transit. The Administration is calling for replacing the current highway trust fund with a transportation trust fund that will have separate accounts for highways, transit, high-speed rail and a national infrastructure bank. … Is this a good idea? …”
A Reality Check
by Ken Orski
Publisher, Innovation Briefs
Transportation spending in the foreseeable future, we are told by congressional leaders, will be limited to the tax receipts deposited into the Highway Trust Fund. The President’s Budget submission said the same in so many words when it pledged that funding for surface transportation will be “paid for fully without increasing the deficit.”
Trust Fund receipts will amount to $36.8 billion in FY 1012, or about seven percent less than was spent in FY 2010 ($39.4 billion), according to the latest figures from the Congressional Budget Office. During the next six years CBO projects tax receipts of $230 billion. Rep. Peter De Fazio (D-OR) is somewhat more generous and estimates the next six-year authorization at $260 billion. That sum is supposed to cover outlays for Highways, Transit and two new accounts in the proposed unified Transportation Trust Fund — one for high-speed passenger rail and another for the National Infrastructure Bank. How would the money be allocated as between these four accounts? I wish somebody in the Administration had the courage to respond to this simple question.
C. Kenneth Orski is a public policy consultant and former principal of the Urban Mobility Corporation. He has worked professionally in the field of transportation for over 30 years, in both the public and private sector. He is editor and publisher of Innovation NewsBriefs, now in its 22nd year of publication.