NASTO Notes – Reauthorization and Funding

Post date: Jun 11, 2012 8:19:15 PM

The biggest topic at NASTO (Northeast Association of State Transportation Officials) is – as at all transportation conferences – Reauthorization and funding. And as usual, no one is very optimistic.

John Porcari (USDOT Deputy Secretary) noted that if we are all asked to do more with less for much longer, pretty soon we will be asked to do everything with nothing. He said we are living off the infrastructure our parents (and grandparents and great-grandparents) bought and paid for. He naturally pointed out some of the good things the Obama Administration has been trying to do, but said it was hard to be optimistic about Reauthorization.

Jack Basso, AASHTO’s finance guru, had to provide another in his long series of rather depressing accounts of the current and future state of transportation funding. The Highway Trust Fund is in critical condition. No more transfers can be expected from general funds. The new CBO report on the financial effects of the new CAFÉ standards makes it clear that current funding is not viable. And there is now no escaping the revenue issue. (Here I have to disagree. Congress and state legislatures can be incredibly creative in escaping revenue issues!)

We will miss Jack Basso, retiring soon from AASHTO, who has been a major voice of reason in transportation finance for many years.

When will we turn the corner and start talking about all the wonderful things we can do in this country in the 21st Century?