July 3, 2012
By passing the transportation bill last week, Congress has once again demonstrated its complete disregard for budgets.
The bill will cost an astounding $120 billion over the next two years. Not only that, this spending outstrips the revenues coming in through the federal gasoline tax. That means either more debt or higher taxes–or both.
As Heritage Foundation experts Emily Goff and Alison Fraser explain, the bill does offer some positive reforms. For instance, it consolidates and eliminates certain programs, thereby cutting down on duplication and waste.
“This bill consolidates over two-thirds of highway programs and eliminates unnecessary programs,” they report, “saving $700 million on the Land and Water Conservation Fund alone, for example.”
The bill also gives states and localities more leeway to decide how to best spend transportation funds. As Goff and Fraser explain,
This bill would send 50 percent of the funds meant for these alternative transportation programs to the local level, and the rest would go to the state. States would have the ability of opting out of spending money on pedestrian and bike trails and safety-related infrastructure. With other projects eligible for this once-sacrosanct funding, states will have more control and freedom to meet their transportation needs without the micromanagement of Congress or federal bureaucrats.
Additionally, the bill cuts down on regulatory red tape by speeding up environmental review processes. This cuts project delivery time down from 15 years to 7 years and frees up resources to use on other projects.
Despite these improvements, the bill’s overspending is unacceptable, as are proposals to offset this overspending with new taxes. Lawmakers need to change course and become serious about curbing their reckless spending habit.
Do you think the government should live within its means?