States Troubled by Federal Transportation Funding Uncertainty
Nikki Wiley reports on a recent presentation by Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) Commissioner Keith Golden, in which he detailed the state’s struggle to find money for transportation. The state’s transportation funding concerns are compounded by uncertainty over the future of federal transportation funding.
GDOT’s 2014-15 budget includes $80 million for capital improvements and $200 million for maintenance. “Much of the department’s projects are funded by federal allocations, a 4 percent state sales tax and a 7.5 percent gas tax, with 1 percent going to the state’s general fund budget,” writes Wiley. States like the neighboring Florida spend a lot more on transportation per capita, according to Golden.
Golden voiced strong opinions about the federal government’s inability to resolve the expected insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund. “It’s not a sustainable option and everyone knows it,” said Golden, calling the highway fund the “fiscal cliff of transportation.”
Golden also made a case for raising the federal gas tax as a possible solution to the highway fund’s problem, saying it wouldn’t be political suicide but acknowledging that raising the tax is unlikely.
Golden was clearly being generous with his time and opinions, also discussing Atlanta's new major league baseball stadium, to be built in 2017 in the Cumberland area. Golden stated that he doesn’t believe the project would have much of a negative impact on traffic in the area.