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Tuesday, April 12, 2011
New Federal Budget kills old Earmarks--Honolulu Rail, Highway, Sewage Treatment Funding in Danger?
By Selected News Articles @ 9:02 PM :: 7001 Views :: Maui County, Education K-12, Energy, Environment, National News, Ethics

CNN Poll:  More Americans Credit Obama, Dems For Budget Compromise

Neil Abercrombie: "More federal funds"

House Appropriations Committee: Summary – Final Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development: The Transportation, Housing, Urban Development and Related Agencies section of the CR contains a total of $55.5 billion, a $12.3 billion, or 18%, reduction from fiscal year 2010 levels, and a reduction of $13.2 billion, or 20%, from the President’s fiscal year 2011 request.

For the Department of Transportation, the bill eliminates new funding for High Speed Rail and rescinds $400 million in previous year funds, for a total reduction of $2.9 billion from fiscal year 2010 levels. The bill reduces funding for transit by a total of $991 million and includes a total of $528 million in new funding for the “TIGER” grant program. While the majority of programs funded by the Highway Trust Fund remain at fiscal year 2010 levels, the bill contains total contract authority rescissions of $3.2 billion, of which $630 million is comprised of old earmarks.

WSJ: GOP Wins Deep Cuts in Environment Spending (April 13)

Most of the EPA cuts will reduce aid to help states implement health and environmental-protection laws. Mr. Obama had proposed cutting those programs, but only by about $200 million.

"These federal cuts make our job to provide a clean environment that much harder," said R. Steven Brown, the agency's executive director, who said the practical effect would be to derail roughly $1 billion in improvements to sewage-treatment and drinking-water plants.

NYT: Budget Deal Deeply Cuts High-Speed Rail Program (April 13)

The depth of the cut in the budget deal came as something of a surprise. As late as Monday afternoon, an administration official had said that there would still be $1 billion available for high-speed rail this year — a cut from the $2.5 billion in last year’s budget, and the $8 billion in rail money in the stimulus bill that got the program started.

But when the budget bill was released overnight, that money was gone: “Notwithstanding Section 1101, the level for ‘Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration, Capital Assistance for High Speed Rail Corridors and Intercity Passenger Rail Service’ shall be $0.” Another section of the new budget bill called for taking back $400 million of the $2.5 billion that was approved last year.

The trims — coupled with cuts to transit spending — were denounced by transportation advocates…..

DC Streets: GOP Budget Would Slash Transpo Spending (April 6)

Ryan’s budget calls for $704 billion to be spent on transportation over the next decade. That’s $318 billion less than if current spending levels were simply extended forward, according to House Transportation Committee Ranking Member Nick Rahall’s office, and $633 billion less than what Obama requested.

The proposal would also radically shift the balance of federal transportation spending toward highways. It promises to eliminate all new intercity rail projects unless they can be established as profitable private enterprises, for example. It also blames the highway trust fund’s deficits on non-highway spending, with “bike trails” specifically singled out….

The unwillingness to raise the gas tax or add any additional revenue to the Highway Trust Fund is a major underlying reason for the major cuts in Ryan’s plan. By ruling out either increasing the gas tax or spending some general fund revenue on surface transportation, as has become the practice since 2008, the Ryan budget would essentially lock in major transportation cuts.

From The Path to Prosperity 2012 (released by Rep Paul Ryan R-WI April 5)

This budget draws inspiration from the GAO’s recommendations in many areas, one of which is the Highway Trust Fund. Over the past decade, highway spending has mostly exceeded the gas-tax revenues that finance the fund, because gas-tax levels leveled off while spending grew. Spending, meanwhile, has increasingly been diverted to non-highway projects, such as bike trails and museums, and politicized through earmarks such as the Bridge to Nowhere mentioned above.

To make up for funding shortfalls, the trust fund has required three large transfusions of taxpayer dollars from general revenues, totaling $35 billion since 2008. Without reform, another infusion will be necessary in 2013. This budget anticipates that Congress can keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent without additional general fund transfers or increases in the gasoline tax by consolidating dozens of separate highway programs that GAO has identified as duplicative. This will help focus every dollar on pursuing a targeted and cohesive national transportation policy….

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