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State DOT Leaders Urge Congress to Stop Taking Back Highway Budget Authority

State DOT Leaders Urge Congress to Stop Taking Back Highway Budget Authority

AASHTO Journal
September 29, 2017

Leaders of state departments of transportation together called on Congress to stop reducing federal highway budget authority that state agencies use to bid out transportation projects, saying this "budgetary artifice" disrupts their project planning.

The state DOT chief executives took the action while meeting Sept. 28 in Phoenix as the board of directors of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

The resolution they unanimously approved makes the case that Congress effectively approves one level of investment in federal-aid highway projects in multiyear surface transportation legislation but then sometimes whittles parts of it away again in subsequent appropriations bills.

It notes that Congress in the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act in December 2015 approved the first new long-term surface transportation authorization in a decade, "which signaled its commitment to ensure predictable, stable federal funding between 2016 and 2020."

But in the same bill it locked in a big, $7.6 billion rescission effective July 2020 of unused, accumulated contract authority that might be on the books of state DOTs at that time, with the amounts to be proportionally stripped out of a certain group of federal programs that include those that pay for new highways and bridges.

Since lawmakers had fully funded the entire five-year bill with specified revenue streams, transportation officials said Congress was using the highway program rescission to help cover unrelated federal spending... FULL ARTICLE

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