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Ryan Calls for Reduced Transportation Spending

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) released his committee’s budget blueprint for FY’14 on March 12, renewing his calls to pare back spending at the U.S. Department of Transportation for federal highway and public transportation programs.

According to NSSGA, precise numbers for federal transportation spending will not be known until Ryan offers his chairman’s mark of the resolution in committee, but with language reading nearly verbatim to his FY’13 and FY’12 resolutions, it is likely he will call for bringing spending in line with Highway Trust Fund revenues.

Further, the document includes a provision stating that all general fund transfers "shall be counted as new budget authority and outlays equal to the amount of the transfer in the fiscal year the transfer occurs."  Recent general fund transfers into the Highway Trust Fund – totaling more than $50 billion – have not been scored since they were considered "intragovernmental transfers."

In the overall House Republican budget, which aims to reduce the federal deficit by $4.6 trillion over the next 10 years, Ryan takes direct shots at the Obama administration’s focus on high-speed rail, intercity passenger rail projects, the 2009 stimulus package and the president’s push for a $50 billion boost in highway and bridge repairs.

Ryan also repeats claims from previous years that federal formula spending on highways and transit "have become distorted, leading to imprudent, irresponsible, and often downright wasteful spending." Disputing the theory that surface transportation spending leads to increased economic activity and job growth, he continues that, "However worthy some highway projects might be, their capacity as job creators has been vastly oversold."