President Obama’s Budget Proposal Calls For Major Transportation Investments
This blog post is one in a series detailing President Obama’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2013.
President Obama released his $3.8 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year 2013, which begins next October. As noted by my colleague yesterday, this budget proposal would stabilize the federal debt over the next decade through a mix of spending cuts and new revenues. The budget proposal includes a $74 billion budget for the U.S. Department of Transportation—this is a 2 percent increase in funding compared to the fiscal year 2012 budget.
Recognizing transportation funding has not kept up with crumbling infrastructure needs, President Obama’s proposal calls for investing $476 billion in a six-year surface transportation plan. To select a few key areas, $305 billion of these funds would be dedicated to road and bridge improvements and construction, $108 billion would be for transit repairs and investments, and $47 billion would support the construction of a national high-speed rail network.
New spending associated with this six-year surface transportation plan would be entirely paid for with the savings from reducing military operations abroad. Gas and other excise tax revenues would continue to fund existing highway and transit programs.
President Obama’s budget proposal also calls for $50 billion of immediate transportation investments to support the repair, maintenance, and improvement of airport, highway, transit and rail projects. The budget proposal would also consolidate 55 highway programs and five transit programs into six streamlined programs, reward $20 billion worth of “race-to-the-top” style transportation leadership awards to encourage efficiency and performance, and allocate $4 billion to the Livable Communities Program to support healthy, connected neighborhoods.
This proposed budget demonstrates that the Obama Administration understands that the U.S. needs to invest in roads, highways, rail and other infrastructure if it is to remain economically competitive. President Obama is proposing to get construction workers—who are experiencing an unemployment rate of 17.7%—off the sidelines and back to work, thereby easing economic hardship while alleviating congestion.
As we evaluate President Obama’s transportation budget request, let’s consider the deteriorating infrastructure problem in North Carolina and the fact that support for infrastructure and public works is an investment that produces broadly shared benefits.