By Dean Franks, senior vice president, congressional relations, ARTBA
The Senate Aug. 1 approved legislation that would boost federal highway investment by $1.8 billion to $48.57 billion in FY 2019. Like the final FY 2018 spending bill signed into law March 22, the measure would supplement authorized funding levels for the federal highway, transit and aviation programs with over $6 billion in general funds.
The additional resources stem from a larger deal between Democrats and Republicans to dramatically boost both domestic and defense spending in FY 2018 and FY 2019. The funding levels depicted in the chart below are the largest increases since the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act stimulus law was enacted in 2009.
That agreement that makes these investment levels possible, however, does not extend into FY 2020 and beyond. Absent another budget agreement or passage of infrastructure legislation, surface transportation program funding levels would revert to the FAST Act authorization levels of $46.4 billion for highways and $12.6 billion for transit in FY 2020.
The House has not scheduled action on its version of the FY 2019 transportation funding measure. With the House out of session until September, the chances of an FY 2019 transportation appropriations bill getting signed into law before Oct. 1 are dwindling. If a bill is not enacted, an interim measure to maintain existing funding levels would likely be necessary.
ARTBA will continue to push for the maximum funding level possible for all transportation programs as the FY 2019 appropriations process moves forward.