A dozen Western governors are opposing a federal budget proposal that would divert more than $1 billion in state highway funds.
In a letter to President Clinton, members of the Western Governors' Assn. called on the administration to respect an earlier agreement forged under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century and signed into law in 1998.
"These provisions clearly required that the surplus revenues collectedfrom highway users would be returned to the states for use in meeting their highway program priorities," the letter stated. "Congress, in passing this provision, struck a balance between the expectation of the highway user, the states and federal government and returned credibility to the federal highway program."
The funds collected for the Federal Highway Trust Fund come from highway user fees on products such as fuel, tires and batteries. The Clinton administration tried unsuccessfully to divert a portion of these fees to other uses last year as part of its 2000 budget proposal. Diversion of the funds away from their intended purpose will require that current authorizations for the core highway and transit programs be reduced, impacting state highway programs.
"The Governors again call on the Administration to respect this provision of TEA-21, to which the Administration committed when the Act was signed into law," the letter stated. "Current law requires that the more than $3 billion surplus in FY2001 go to the states to fund their highway priorities."
Governors who signed the letter include: Jane Dee Hull, AZ; Bill Owens, CO; Ben Cayetano, HI; Dirk Kempthorne, ID; Marc Racicot, MT; Mike Johanns, NE; Gary Johnson, NM; Ed Schafer, ND; John Kitzhaber, OR; George W. Bush, TX; Mike Leavitt, UT; and Jim Geringer, WY.