AASHTO joins in urging general funds for highway safety

News AASHTO Journal April 14, 2006
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Ten transportation organizations recently urged House and Senate appropriations to fund operations, research and administrative expenses of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from general funds, not the Highway Trust Fund, which “is under financial stress.”

The president’s 2007 budget proposal would “represent a drain of over $100 million” from the Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund in FY 2007, adding up to $300 million to $400 million by the end of the reauthorization in 2009, the groups stated.

The groups stressed that they “seek to properly source—but in no way reduce—NHTSA’s funding thereby strengthening the balance of in the Highway Account by roughly $300 to $400 million in FY 2009,” the organizations stated.

Historically, through FY 2003, NHTSA operations and research, outside of Section 403 programs, were funded out of the general fund as provided in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA 21). The current reauthorization, SAFETEA-LU, similarly does not provide authorization to fund NHTSA from the Highway Account.

The letter concludes, “The Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund is under financial stress. Diversions from the Account, while never welcome, are particularly undesirable now. We have outlined here an approach to cut off one form of diversion from the Highway Account by funding certain NHTSA operations, research and administrative expenses from the General Fund…This approach would represent a first step in addressing the problems facing the Highway Account. We urge you to take it.”

Joining in the April 6 letter are the following organizations: AASHTO, the American Council of Engineering Cos., the Associated General Contractors of America, National Asphalt Pavement Association, Portland Cement Association, American Highway Users Alliance, American Road and Transportation Builders Association and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. The letter was sent to the transportation appropriations leadership including Senators Christopher Bond (R-Mo.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and to Representatives Joseph Knollenberg (R-Mich.) and John Olver (D-Mass.).

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