As part of its FY 2006 budget proposal that was released yesterday, the Bush administration is proposing to increase its federal highway and transit investment recommendations to the levels proposed by House Republicans during the 2004 highway bill negotiations. The administrations new TEA-21 reauthorization financing proposal would provide $283.9 billion in guaranteed highway, transit and safety investments through 2009. The new proposal is an increase of roughly $28 billion from the guaranteed funding the administration recommended last year. The proposal amounts to a cumulative 5.5% increase above current levels of federal highway and transit investment after adjusting for projected inflation.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta told ARTBA and other transportation community representatives that the administrations budget is deficit-neutral. To accomplish this objective, the administration is investing all the new Highway Trust Fund revenue generated by legislation last year to reform the taxation of ethanol fuels and crack down on user-fee evasion. The budget also proposes to reform the treatment of current federal fuel tax refunds available to state and local governments so the cost of the refunds would be borne by the federal General Fund, rather than the Highway Trust Fund. This proposal, if enacted by Congress, would generate an estimated $5.6 billion in new Highway Trust Fund revenues through 2009.
The administrations recommendations will now be considered by the House and Senate as they work to pass their own TEA-21 reauthorization proposals. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska) has said he will introduce reauthorization legislation this week.