Is the rainbow fading?

News AASHTO Journal January 16, 2002
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Rumors persist that President George W

Rumors persist that President George W. Bush's FY 2003 budget proposal, set for release on Feb. 4, will show that gas tax and other revenues into the Highway Trust Fund will fall well short of what was projected in the administration's FY 2002 budget. In fact, trust fund revenues may fall by $2.5 billion or more below the $27.7 billion base-funding level assumed in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21).


As a result, the highway obligation limitation for FY 2003 could dip as low as $25.5 billion--$7 billion lower than the $32.7 billion provided for highways in FY 2002.


For the past three years, federal highway funding levels set in TEA-21 have been increased by the infusion of funding from a provision known as Revenue Aligned Budget Authority (RABA). The provision was intended to ensure that revenue collected in the Highway Trust Fund--above the regular authorization levels--would be fully spent. However, the language establishing RABA also calls for decreases in budget authority and obligation levels, should trust fund revenues fall short of projections.


To date, revenue into the Highway Trust Fund has lead to a total of $8.9 billion in additional RABA authority above TEA-21's base levels through FY 2002.


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