Bush budget slashes highway-spending

| 2/6/2002

The Bush administration has released its proposed 2003 budget, dropping overall spending for transportation programs from $59 billion to $53.6 billion for 2003. Despite the decrease, additional funding is sought for improved transportation security and safety.

The administration says the decrease in program spending was due to a $9 billion reduction in money available for highway projects because of lower-than expected funding from federal fuel tax receipts. California, Texas and New York likely will be impacted most by the cuts.

Despite the drop in highway funding, proposed spending for other major transportation programs would go up $7.1 billion for Coast Guard spending, $14 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration and $7.2 billion for mass transit. The centerpiece of the plan is $4.8 billion for the new Transportation Security Administration, which is devoted to coordinating air, sea and land security programs. Included in the security grant is high-tech monitoring equipment for truck cargo and aid for emergency preparedness research on hazmat transport.

The proposal also includes $116 million to improve safety enforcement operations and construct inspection facilities along the southern border in anticipation of implementing the North American Free Trade Agreement.