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Federal Transportation Funding Updates

FY 2012 Appropriations, American Jobs Act, and Senate Reauthorization Bill

On November 1, 2011, the U.S. Senate approved an appropriations bill to fund federal highway and transit programs for FY 2012. It maintains current spending levels, with an obligation limit of $41.1 billion for highway and $8.3 billion for transit. The Senate did not approve amendments to reallocate funds from the transportation enhancement program or to eliminate the Small Community Air Service Development Program. The U.S. House of Representatives passed an appropriations bill that would reduce funding by 34 percent from current levels; both chambers have selected conferees to reconcile the two bills. The continuing resolution that provides funding for transportation and other federal programs will expire November 18.

On November 2, the Senate failed to advance two transportation-related components of the American Jobs Act. Called the Rebuild America Jobs Act, the bill would have provided $50 billion for a variety transportation programs and $10 billion to capitalize a national infrastructure bank.

In a November 3 blog posting, the Speaker of the House announced his intention to introduce an energy and infrastructure jobs bill. Such a bill would link increased domestic energy production with efforts to expand infrastructure spending. This idea was first raised earlier in the fall, as reported in this CMAP Policy Update from October 7.

On November 6, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released the full text of its two-year transportation reauthorization bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). The bill would continue the federal highway program for two years at current funding levels plus inflation. Early reports peg the total funding level at $85.3 billion, with some $12 billion to $13 billion in funds not yet identified. According to this summary provided by the committee, MAP-21 would consolidate the number of federal programs from about 90 to less than 30, eliminate earmarks, accelerate project delivery, focus on performance-based programming, and expand the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) credit assistance program.

MAP-21 would provide five core programs: National Highway Performance Program, Transportation Mobility Program, National Freight Network Program, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ), and Highway Safety Improvement Program. The first three would be new core program areas that combine current programs and provide states with greater flexibility in allocating funds. The last two, as well as the TIFIA program, build on existing core programs. TIFIA in particular is slated for expansion: Funding would increase to $1 billion annually, and its eligible share of project costs would rise from 33 percent to 49 percent.

MAP-21 would continue the federal government's commitment to metropolitan transportation planning. Metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) such as CMAP would continue to allocate CMAQ funds, as well as the proposed new Transportation Mobility Program funds (similar to the current Surface Transportation Program). MPOs over 1 million in population would be held to performance-based standards, incorporating explicit performance targets into their regional plans. Large MPOs would also be permitted to use scenario planning as a component of a performance-based planning process. CMAP's GO TO 2040 is an example of a scenario-based plan.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has scheduled a markup session for MAP-21 this Wednesday, November 9. Check back for updates on new developments.