Better Roads Staff
Follow the Money
A fiscal year 2012 transportation spending breakdown
By John Latta
Sometimes this page is used to help readers read between the lines.
The House Appropriations Committee has released its fiscal year 2012 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill. The legislation includes funding for the Department of Transportation. FY 2012 begins Oct, 1, 2011.
And should Reauthorization actually occur, the committee would change its numbers to reflect the funding called for in that legislation. But the proposal itself does indicate the committee’s basic approach to where what money should go.
As we face extension after extension on the way to (maybe) a new six-year surface transportation bill, we continually run into the problem that no one really has a workable idea about how to fund an adequate bill in the short term (i.e. now) since no one will raise fuel taxes, by far the main contributor to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF).
Whenever the question of funding a new bill arises, it is tossed, hot-potato-style, to the House Appropriations Committee, which would have to find the machinery to bring in extra money.
In total, the bill includes $55.15 billion in discretionary spending – a reduction of $19.8 billion below the President’s request and $217 million below last year’s level. The funding level in this bill reflects the overall FY 2012 discretionary spending total of $1.043 billion, to which the House, Senate and White House agreed in the recent debt ceiling legislation.
“Step by step, we are trimming government spending and streamlining programs to make them more cost-effective, efficient and responsive to the American people,” says committee chairman Hal Rogers. “This bill saves taxpayers billions of dollars and eliminates waste wherever possible. This bill is yet another example of this Committee’s commitment to return our government to some semblance of fiscal sanity by restoring responsibility, restraint and thoughtfulness to the budgeting process.”
The Senate’s version keeps current funding levels in place.
John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) said that his group applauds “the entire [Senate] subcommittee for taking this action, which avoids a major reduction in transportation investment for FY 2012. The cuts proposed in the House bill would eliminate 500,000 jobs, not to mention putting the nation further behind on many critical transportation improvements.”