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Highway Donor States Now Extinct


With one exception, there are no donor states in the distribution of federal highway formula funds, a Government Accountability Office report found. A

With one exception, there are no donor states in the distribution of federal highway formula funds, a Government Accountability Office report found.

A study of states' allocations from FY2005 through FY2008 showed that every state but one received as much back from the highway program as it contributed in federal highway excise taxes. The lone exception was Texas, which received 99.7 cents for every dollar it contributed. However, since 2007, Texas has received more highway funding than it contributed in federal highway excise taxes.

ìSince 2005, every state received as much or more funding for highway programs than they contributed to the Highway Account of the trust fund. This was possible because more funding was authorized and apportioned than was collected from the states, and the fund needed to be augmented with general revenuesÖ,î the GAO report reads.

ìI have long believed that a federal surface-transportation program should focus less on the donor-and-donee debate and more on the needs of a national system,î says Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), who chairs the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. ìThe GAO report provides a consistent set of figures and a better understanding of how federal-aid highway funding is distributed among states. This report should help inform the discussion as we continue to work toward the next surface transportation authorization act.î

The report addresses this point further: ìUsing rate of return as a major factor in determining highway funding poses challenges to introducing a performance and accountability orientation into the highway program; rate-of-return calculations in effect override other considerations to yield a largely predetermined outcome ó that of returning revenues to their state of origin.î