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GOP Transport Bill Proposes to Cut That TIGER

I guess Sunday Train did not cover the White House transport proposal, which put forward a $302b 4-year surface transportation authorization, more than $20b per year higher than current levels. With respect to rail funding, it proposed reorganizing intercity passenger rail funding into Current Rail Service and Rail Service Improvement programs, merging the Amtrak funding which was authorized in FY 2013 and 2014 with the Higher Speed / High Performance rail program which was zeroed out in the funding that passed Congress.

For the 2015 budget year, it proposed:

  • for Federal-Aid Highways an additional $7.1b (+18%);
  • for Transit-Formula grants, an additional $5.3b (+62%);
  • for Transit New Starts, an additional $370m (+15%);
  • for TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery), an additional $650m, (+108%);
  • for “Current Rail Service”, an additional $1.1b (+43% compared to previous Amtrak authorization);
  • for the new “Rail Service Improvement Programs”, $2.3b;
  • for the new Freight Program, $1b;
  • for the new Critical Immediate Investments stimulus spending (aka “Fix It First” projects), $4.85b;
  • for the new Fixing and Accelerating Surface Transportation (FAST), $1b;
  • for the new Rapid Growth Area Transit Program, $500m.

But the President proposes budgets, the Congress authorizes spending and appropriates the funds within (and sometimes well under) those authorized levels, and with the current Republican House Majority, any White House transportation budget is largely a work of fiction. It is, at most, a set of ambit claims for the complex three-way negotiations over budgeting between the House, the Senate, and the White House.

However, now the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee has released its Fiscal Year 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill, so now that three-way negotiation process can get started. The tl;dr version of the House proposal is, “If you like our current collapsing infrastructure, boy do we have a budget for you!”

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