President Obama released the final budget proposal of his Presidency on February 9, 2016. His Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request calls for $4.1 trillion of overall spending and includes a 21st Century Clean Transportation Plan that requests $495 billion in spending in the federal Departments of Transportation; Energy; NASA; and the Environmental Protection Agency.
More specifically, it includes a $19.9 billion request for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and a $6.3 billion request for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). These requests represent a 68.7 percent increase for FTA programs and a 268.8 percent increase from FRA programs compared to Fiscal Year 2016 enacted levels.
As with previous Administration proposals, the Fiscal Year 2017 request reorganizes the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) into a Transportation Trust Fund (TTF). The TTF incorporates all existing HTF programs as well as additional other transit, passenger rail, highway safety and multimodal transportation programs.
Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
Within the budget proposal Transit Formula Grants are funded at $9.733 billion in Fiscal Year 2017 compared to a Fiscal Year 2016 enacted level of $9.35 billion. This level is consistent with the authorization levels set in the recently enacted Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. The President’s request also proposes a new Supplementary Transit Formula Grant program to provide additional funding to support transit capital investments and state of good repair needs, funded at $5.9 billion in Fiscal Year 2017. The proposal calls for funding the Capital Investment Grant program at $3.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2017 to support thirty-one projects across eighteen states. In previous years, the Capital Investment Grant program has been funded with General Fund revenues, however, this budget proposes to fund the program from the newly formed Transportation Trust Fund. A new Rapid Growth Area Bus Rapid Transit Corridor Program is proposed at $525 million in Fiscal Year 2017. This proposed discretionary program would support fast growing communities that want to do multimodal development along congested corridors.
Other proposed funding include $23 million for FTA’s state safety oversight program and $150 million for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). Lastly, the proposal calls for $1.5 billion for TIGER grants in Fiscal Year 2017.
Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
The President’s proposal significantly expands investment in passenger rail infrastructure with $6.27 billion of proposed funding for high-performance rail projects (including Amtrak) in Fiscal Year 2017 compared to $1.7 billion enacted in Fiscal Year 2016. Funding would support the development of high performance passenger rail networks; enhance existing rail service and support rail state of good repair projects; provide Amtrak with operating and capital grants; comply with the Americans with Disabilities Acts (ADA); support rail research, planning, and workforce initiatives; and to support rail safety and operations including the implementation of positive train control systems.
Per Barrel Tax on Oil
The Administration’s Clean Transportation Plan is projected to cost $303 billion over 10 years and would be funded with one-time transition revenues from business tax reform (a form of repatriation) as well as a $10.25 per barrel tax on oil which would be phased in over five years. The business tax reform changes are projected to raise $176 billion over 10 years. The per barrel oil tax would raise a net of $319 billion over ten years. (That number takes into account the tax’s impact on other government receipts as well as the Administration’s proposed 15 percent set-aside to assist families that rely on home heating oil.). The budget dedicates $231 billion of that amount for projects at the Department of Transportation.
Fiscal Year 2016 FTA Apportionments
Additionally, the FTA released the apportionments for FY 2016 on Tuesday. To access this information, please visit the FTA website here.
FTA Safety Notice of Proposed Rule Makings
On Friday, February 5, the FTA published two notices in the Federal Register regarding safety rulemakings. The first is a notice of availability of the proposed National Public Transportation Safety Plan, and the second is a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Public Transportation Agency Safety Plans (linked below). The comments for both are due on April 5, 2016. FTA is committing to hold multiple webinars on these topics and will also hold a public listening session on March 16, 2016 at 9:30 am during the APTA Legislative Conference. Stay tuned for announcements of upcoming APTA webinars on these topics as well.