The White House yesterday issued its budget for the 2014 fiscal year that includes $76.6 billion in funding for the Department of Transportation, as well as an additional $50 billion in "immediate investments" to fix what are seen to be the country's most pressing infrastructure problems.
The White House proposal calls for funding surface and rail transportation programs with undefined savings from the projected wind-down of overseas military operations.
The budget proposal would fully fund the 27-month, $109 billion transportation reauthorization bill that was signed into law in July 2012. It would also set aside funds that would be used for spending on the next reauthorization cycle after the current law expires in September 2014. The proposal envisions a "long-term" reauthorization program that would include a 25-percent funding increase over current levels.
The budget proposal also calls for $40 billion to fund railroad improvements, including projects to strengthen the country's freight rail network. In all, the proposal is a 5.5-percent increase over the enacted levels in fiscal year 2012, the White House said.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA), the nation's leading trucking trade group, criticized the proposal for failing to provide a realistic mechanism to pay for needed improvements. "We continue to get lip service about the importance of roads and bridges, with no real roadmap to real funding solutions," said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves in a statement.
Graves' comments were echoed by Rep. Bill Shuster, (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, who said President Obama, "repeats his call to increase spending without identifying a viable means to pay for it."