Its been about two weeks since the President released his administration’s 2013 budget proposal. And while it is just that, a proposal, and there are certainly other issues before the Congress, I thought it would be a good idea to start taking a closer look at some of the recommendations. The following is a summary of the transportation recommendations as summarized by the National League of Cities.
The President’s transportation budget request proposes an overall investment of $476 billion in transportation programs over six years and includes funding for several NLC priorities, such as investment in public transportation, maintenance of existing infrastructure and bridge repairs. Expansion of these programs would be funded through cost savings from the war in Afghanistan.
The Administration’s six-year plan would invest $50 billion for “immediate transportation investments,” nearly half of which would go to highway and bridge repair, 30 percent to transit and rail and the rest to aviation and border crossings — an approach similar to that in the Administration’s jobs plan released last year.
Beyond the immediate infusion of funds, the budget proposes: $305 billion for highways and $108 billion for transit, which improves the current 80-20 split to 75-25; $47 billion for rail re-investment, with a continued focus on intercity and high-speed passenger rail; $3.4 billion (approximately $600 million per year) for National Infrastructure Investments, supporting discretionary grant programs like the TIGER grants; and $3 billion ($500 million per year) for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, a fourfold increase over current levels but only half of what the House and Senate suggest per year.
The President’s budget also proposes that two new accounts be added to the Highway Trust Fund: one for transit and another for national infrastructure investments.
Arnold Weinfeld is Director of Strategic Initiatives and Federal Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 or by e-mail.