State transportation officials recently voiced their strong objections to the use of rescissions of unobligated highway contract authority as a means to offset highway-related or non-highway-related budget activities.
Rescissions of unobligated contract authority have become a common mechanism used by Congress to create "savings" to offset new funding authorizations. A resolution (PR-2-07) adopted by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) board of directors May 7 notes that:
- In fiscal year 2006, Congress enacted three highway rescissions totaling $3.82 billion; and
- In fiscal year 2007, Congress enacted a highway rescission in the continuing resolution totaling some $3.47 billion.
The fiscal year 2007 supplemental appropriations bill passed by Congress but vetoed by the President proposed to rescind another $683 million. The continuation of such rescissions will affect the states' ability to program projects, the resolution states.
"While Congress may see this unused authority as simply money up for grabs, in fact it represents a funding commitment on which states have based their planning and programs," Executive Director John Horsley said. "It's bad policy for transportation," he concluded.