The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) believes President Barack Obama’s proposed FY 2014 budget contains promising rhetoric for the highway program, but lacks any financial punch. ARTBA released its analysis of the budget April 11, and noted the president’s failure to recommend a realistic source of funds to support its investment proposals suggest that, beyond funding for the core transportation investment programs, the budget requests will hit resistance in Congress.
The main proposals include:
- A one-time $50 billion appropriation for immediate transportation improvements in FY 2014, including $40 billion for Fix-it-First investments and another $10 billion to help spur states and local innovation in infrastructure improvements;
- Fully funding the federal highway portion of MAP-21, which includes an obligation ceiling of $40.256 billion for FY 2014 plus $739 billion of contract authority and emergency relief funding;
- The budget requests $10.91 billion for the public transportation program, including $1.98 billion for the transit New Starts Program, another MAP-21 item;
- Reducing the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 from $3.35 billion to $2.9 billion by eliminating funding for large hub airports and allowing those airports to increase passenger facility charges to finance improvements;
- Establishing a $10 billion National Infrastructure Bank, new America Fast Forward Bonds, expanding of the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) and Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) programs, lifting the national cap and expanding eligibility for Private Activity Bonds, and changing the tax treatment of foreign pension funds to attract increased investment. The president call this his Partnership to Rebuild Amercia; and
- Fully funding the TIFIA program as outlined in MAP-21.
“We have the responsibility to address America’s infrastructure needs with an equally responsible solution that doesn’t burden our children with more debt,” said Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. “I remain committed to working with everyone, across the aisle and across the country, to continue reforming programs, focus our resources where they are most needed, and build consensus on how to responsibly meet the needs of our nation’s aging infrastructure.”