By Dean Franks, senior vice president, congressional relations, ARTBA
The Highway Trust Fund (HTF) is solvent through September 2021, a full year after the 2015 FAST Act surface transportation law expires Sept. 30, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The official tracker of federal user fee revenues Jan. 28 released its periodic projection for the future outlays and income for the fund.
Congress and the Obama administration transferred $70 billion from the federal General Fund to offset the projected costs for the FAST Act. However, receipts from gasoline, diesel and heavy truck user fees have come in above 2015 estimated projections, extending the timeline a full year until additional revenues are required to stave off rationing of reimbursements to states for construction work completed.
The CBO projection comes as House and Senate leaders are considering a new surface transportation bill. The CBO news ensures less revenue will be necessary to support a new law, making the job of the House and Senate tax committees a little easier. However, more revenue coming into the HTF also makes it easier for Congress and the administration to punt the legislation until after the November election, creating uncertainty for state DOTs and the transportation construction industry.
ARTBA will continue working with House and Senate leaders to ensure a robustly funded bill backed by long-term, sustainable, user-based revenue streams is enacted before the Sept. 30 expiration of the FAST Act.