President Obama’s fiscal 2015 budget would shift $4 billion in discretionary spending to mandatory spending, including a change in transportation funds. The reclassification would take some pressure off the discretionary budget, constrained by budget caps until 2021.
Under the plan, the current Highway Trust Fund would be replaced by a “Transportation Trust Fund” that includes funding for Amtrak, intercity rail and highway infrastructure projects.
Currently, the Highway Trust Fund is classified as mandatory spending, while Amtrak’s discretionary funding leaves it at the whim of Congress.
Under Obama’s budget plan, Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants and Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act credit assistance would become mandatory, and funding would increase to $1.25 billion in 2015. States rely on the funding for local and regional projects.
Reaction has been mixed among congressional Republicans.
The top House appropriator, Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), said he had no appetite for the proposed change in transportation funding, according to CQ.
A Senate GOP budget report, however, said the hybrid approach would be an improvement “to the extent that this change would make it harder to deploy budget gimmicks.”