The American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) provides this analysis of the Bush administration's proposed budget, released in February. This $2.9-trillion fiscal year (FY) 2008 budget proposal includes mixed results for the $65 billion the measure recommends for the programs administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Specifically, the budget recommends record investment for a number of federal transportation programs, including the highway and transit programs. Unfortunately, the budget plan fails to adhere to the surface transportation program investments guaranteed by the Safe Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) of 2005.
The administration is proposing $39.585 billion for the core federal highway program — a $500-million increase over projected FY 2007 investment — and reports Highway Trust Fund Highway Account revenues have exceeded projections by $631 million (page 216 of the budget's Analytical Perspectives). Unfortunately, the administration is proposing to cancel the $631-million upward adjustment of FY 2008 highway investment these additional revenues require under SAFETEA-LU's funding guarantees due to concerns about the trust fund's solvency. This proposal would represent the first explicit violation of the Highway Trust Fund's investment guarantees since they were enacted in 1998.
The measure also calls for increasing federal transit investment by $450 million to $9.4 billion. This amount, however, is $300 million below the FY 2008 funding level required by SAFETEA-LU and also would be a major break from the transportation funding guarantees. The administration's budget also recommends a $765-million, or 22-percent, reduction in federal airport construction investment from the current level of $3.52 billion to $2.75 billion in FY 2008.
It is important to recognize the administration's budget proposal is not binding, but rather represents the first step in the annual budget process. Federal spending decisions for each fiscal year are not finalized until the enactment of the 12 individual appropriations bills.
The full analysis of the budget's transportation funding recommendations is provided at www.artba.org. Please contact ARTBA's William Buechner or David Bauer at (202) 289-4434 with any questions or issues opening this analysis.