by Emil H. Frankel
American Action Forum
May 05, 2014
Federal transportation policy stands at a crossroads. Will transportation continue to be a system funded essentially by user fees? And, if so, will those fees be devoted exclusively to roads and highways or support surface transportation more broadly? Alternatively, one could imagine a system that relies much more heavily on general revenue and is treated much like other programs funded in discretionary appropriations. In recent years, a greater and greater share of the federal role in surface transportation is supported by general revenues. Overall, between 25 and 30 percent of federal surface transportation programs are currently paid by general funds, and that percentage continues to grow. These budget realities suggest that the future could be very different from the past. If so, it is important that future transportation policy be debated and set intentionally, and not merely as the consequence of inaction.

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