It's getting scary for transportation. We're hearing from the public that there is an increasing amount of transportation improvements needed, but there's less money available. The House GOP last night adopted a rule that will allow the House to allocate less transportation funding than is authorized by the current federal transportation spending funding and authorization bill that governs federal surface transportation spending. The rules package will be voted on by the full House and is expected to pass.
The purpose of the rule is to "prevent the government from being forced to spend more on surface transportation projects than the Highway Trust Fund collects."
What it means for transportation stakeholders and agencies is that the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 transportation appropriations bill (Oct '11 - Sep '12) will most likely provide less funding than the 2010 spending bill. The FY 2011 spending levels are yet to be finalized; the House and Senate will tackle that in February.
Pro-transportation Representatives are of course expected to fight the passage of this rule, and the Senate and White House will likely support higher funding levels, but ultimately it may not be enough.
Transit and rail program funding could also be more at risk. Much of the funding for those programs comes from the general fund.
I'll post updates on this as they become available.