With the 2003 federal appropriations still mired in a House-Senate conference committee, the U.S. DOT unveiled its proposed fiscal year 2004 budget yesterday, requesting $54.3 billion, a 6% increase over President Bushs 2003 request.
The DOT would set aside $14.4 billion (27% of the total) for transportation safety. Fiscal year (FY) 2004 is the first full year of funding for the new Department of Homeland Security, to which the U.S. Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration are moving from the DOT.
For the Federal Highway Administration, the White Houses 2004 proposal extends the current funding approach established under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, which links highway spending to Highway Trust Fund (HTF) receipts. The proposed budget is designed to keep the HTF balance relatively constant, with an obligation limitation of $29.3 billion for the Federal-Aid Highways Program in FY 2004. The amount is $1 billion more than estimated incoming receipts, and the extra $1 billion is planned to fund a new Infrastructure Preservation and Maintenance initiative aimed at "ready-to-go" highway projects that address immediate highway needs and can be implemented quickly.
The $29.3 billion for Federal-Aid Highways is 6% more than the $27.6 billion requested for 2003 but less than the $30.6 billion actually spent in 2002.
John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials, told the Associated Press that $35 billion in federal funding is needed just to maintain the current highway system.
The budget also proposes that all revenue from gasohol taxes be deposited directly into the HTF, which would add approximately $600 million per year of available funding to the HTF.
The budget includes $665 million for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to support its mission of reducing vehicle fatalities, preventing injuries and encouraging safe driving practices.
In order to prevent fatalities and injuries resulting from accidents involving commercial motor vehicles, the budget includes $447 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The budget also includes $7.2 billion for the Federal Transit Administration to strengthen and maintain mass transit systems.