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News January 28, 2002
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The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held its first hearing on the reauthorization of TEA-21, but the potential FY

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held its first hearing on the reauthorization of TEA-21, but the potential FY 2003 highway investment crisis stole the spotlight.


A number of senators expressed concern about the reported cut in highway investment from $31.8 billion in FY 2002 to $22.7 billion in FY 2003 expected to be part of the Bush Administration's budget proposal. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) suggested spending down the nearly $19 billion Highway Trust Fund balance to keep the program at its current level.


U.S. Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta said the Administration has not decided how to respond to the reduction in highway funding that would be triggered by a strict application of the TEA-21 revenue aligned budget authority provision, which links investment levels to Highway Trust Fund revenues. He said the department is focused on developing an approach for TEA-21's reauthorization that would "smooth out" dramatic RABA-caused highway investment swings in the future.


Mineta did say the Administration hoped to complete its TEA-21 reauthorization plan by Jan. 2003.


It will include the following objectives:


* Assuring adequate and predictable funding sources for transportation investment;


* Preserving the flexibility for state and local officials to determine the best transportation solutions;


* Building on the intermodal approaches of ISTEA and TEA-21 and strengthening intermodal connections;


* Expanding and improving innovative financing programs;


* Emphasizing the security of the nation's surface transportation system;


* Improving the overall safety system;


* Streamlining the transportation project review and approval process;


* Fostering expanded use of technology; and


* Focusing on the management and performance of the transportation system as a whole.


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