Last week Congress approved a stopgap federal funding measure that implements the mandatory cuts in funding levels–cuts which most severely cut the most innovative transportation programs. The bill puts in place the cuts known as sequestration–meaning deep cuts to New Starts, Amtrak, TIGER and Sandy relief efforts.
The initial House proposal threatened to cut funding even below the Congressionally-imposed mandatory reductions. The Senate kept sequestration cuts but made changes to increase transportation formula funding to MAP-21 levels and, for the first time, fund the new TOD planning grant program. Read more about the impacts on specific programs on this chart that shows the impacts on different transportation programs. This funding bill–known as a continuing resolution–offers little long-term stability in transportation funding. The mandatory cuts–including $100 million less for New Starts and $26 million less for TIGER–underscore the need for secure funding for the entire transportation system.
The House and Senate also put forward long-term visions for federal funding last week. Both chambers passed budget resolutions, 10-year policy outlines that show the two parties’ priorities. The House budget calls for dwindling investments in transportation infrastructure by tying these investments to collapsing gas tax revenue. In contrast, the Senate budget includes a provision that would allow for increased revenue dedicated to essential transportation programs. This provision could be one of the most important opportunities for advocates to secure funding for needed investments in transit, passenger rail and more innovative infrastructure investment.