Wednesday, January 5, 2011

House GOP Agrees To Allocate Less To Transportation Spending

It's getting scary out there for transportation. We're hearing from members of the public every day about needed transportation improvements, such as the story below about potholes, but there's less and less money to spend on it. The House GOP last night adopted a rule that will allow the House to allocate less transportation funding than is authorized by the current funding and authorization bill that governs federal surface transportation spending. The rules package will be voted on by the full House and is expected to pass.

So what does that mean for transportation stakeholders and agencies?

the Washington State Department of Transportation 'Federal Transportation Issues' Blog breaks it down.


Anonymous said...

It doesn't mean anything yet. From reading that post it just sounds as though the House is likely to pass a rule that would ALLOW them to give less to transportation than allocated in SAFETEA-LU. Once the rule passes, the House would still have to vote to actually reduce allocations. The vote to reduce allocations to less than SAFETEA-LU levels would then need to be passed by the Senate, which I personally believe is very unlikely.

SRTC Staff said...

The feeling behind the scenes (at least what we're being told by those who claim to be in the know) is that it's pretty likely this will pass both the House AND Senate, with a few amendments of course. Then the wait is on to see if they do actually vote to reduce allocations. I'm hoping you're right and we're worrying needlessly but with all the changes going on out there we don't like to take anything for granted.

Barb Chamberlain said...

At the Greater Spokane Inc. meeting of the Federal Legislative Advisory Group, David Condon of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers' office explained this a bit.

If I'm stating it accurately, SAFETEA-LU authorized Congress to spend more than the amount of the transportation budget on projects by reaching into the general fund. This new rule would roll that back so they would have to stay within the revenues produced by the federal gas tax (and whatever else may go into that bucket).

Now switching to my opinion: We don't have enough revenue for the transportation projects we want, whether it's maintenance or new construction. We will have to solve this problem sooner rather than later. As jurisdictions start losing projects they thought were funded because of this rule change, that will increase the pressure to come up with the revenue answer.


SRTC Staff said...

Thanks for the insight Barb. We are supposed to discuss this in depth at the SRTC Board meeting this upcoming Thursday.

About SRTC

SRTC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Spokane County. Urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people are required to have an MPO. SRTC was formed to address the county's transportation planning needs. It provides coordination in planning between the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and tribes.

SRTC offers services including transportation monitoring, transportation modeling, census information analysis, travel demand forecasting, historical traffic count analysis, geographic information systems, and trip generation rates.