House leaders avoid a reduction in Highway Trust Fund credits

News AASHTO Journal March 26, 2003
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House authorizers prevailed in a behind-the-scenes skirmish with budget writers that could have reduced Highway Trust Fund cred

House authorizers prevailed in a behind-the-scenes skirmish with budget writers that could have reduced Highway Trust Fund credits from revenue estimates by 25%.


At issue was the budget scoring of income to the Highway Trust Fund. In scoring potential revenue to the general fund from increased taxes, budget writers apply a rule that assumes that 25% of the revenue will be offset by business tax write-offs and other reasons. That rule has never been applied to revenue credited to the Highway Trust Fund since its creation in 1956.


Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young persuaded Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle to remove the language from the proposed budget resolution, averting a possible floor fight over the language.


The scoring provisions had weighty implications for the upcoming reauthorization of the federal-aid highway and transit programs. Young and other committee leaders are aiming to increase funding from the $218 billion authorized in TEA-21 to $375 billion over six years in the next authorizing bill. One of the funding options suggested is increasing the fuels tax by up to 12 cents. If the 25% were applied the tax increase would have to be substantially higher to achieve the target revenue.


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