Federal Highway Administrator Mary Peters met with strong opposition to the administration's FY 2004 highway budget request at a hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Peters outlined the administration's budget plan, which calls for a highway obligation ceiling of $29.3 billion in FY 2004, including a $1 billion initiative for ready-to-go projects that can be obligated within six months time. The administration also has proposed $200 million in emergency relief funding, $639 million in minimum guarantee funds and $100 million for the continuation of priority projects, for a total highway program level of $30.2 billion.
Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) expressed his disappointment in the administration's budget request and told Peters that there was no support in the Committee for a cut to $29.3 billion in FY 2004, a decrease of $2.5 billion from FY 2003. Bond said a letter to that effect has drawn the support of 64 Senators after two days.
Sen. James Jeffords (I-Vt.), ranking minority of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, supported Bond's statement and discussed the negative implication of tax cuts on infrastructure development.
"We need a highway funding level that will improve safety, congestion and economic growth," said Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.).