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How States Compensate for Less Federal Transportation Funding

In Kenneth Orski’s latest Innovation Brief, Orski explains what the states have done to buffer themselves from the effects of less transportation funding from the federal government — and it’s not the dire picture being painted by big spenders in Washington: 

While transportation stakeholders and the Washington press corps are focusing on the impending Highway Trust Fund shortfall and the emerging House-Senate consensus to “patch” the Fund with $10.8 billion in short-term funding until May 2015, they are ignoring developments outside the Beltway that go a long way to compensate for the lack of an assurance of long-term federal funding.  For in fact, individual states, far from sitting idly by, are responding to the current fiscal uncertainties in Washington by stepping up and raising additional revenue to meet their transportation needs. 

Twenty-eight states have launched transportation-related revenue initiatives according to surveys by the American Road and Builders Association (ARTBA), the National Council of State Legislatures and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

Collectively, these measures are generating billions of additional dollars for state and local transportation programs and providing a buffer against the possibility of delayed federal reimbursements and inadequate federal funding.

State officials we have talked to are quick to remind that “we cannot do it all” and that all levels of government, including the federal government, should share in the cost of maintaining and improving the nation’s highways.  But they concede that the recent revenue initiatives by various state legislatures are helping to relieve concerns about a slowdown in highway construction and cushion the impact of any eventual reduction in federal funding.   

 

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