While published reports indicate the $58.8 billion proposed Department of Transportation budget is more than 3 percent less than the year before, the numbers can be confusing. The White House says while Bush's budget show declining revenues in transportation funds, it says this is the result of declining fuel tax receipts brought on by the recession, and "does not represent a cut in funding." A DOT press release says the department is seeking $59.3 billion, "an overall increase of $4.7 billion or 8 percent when adjusted for a reduction in highway spending required by law."
Whatever the cause, the net result, according to published reports, is that highway spending is being slashed by almost $9 billion.
A key component of the budget is $4.8 billion for new Transportation Security Administration. "Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, we must provide for enhanced security as well as the safety of all who use the country's transportation system," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta.
The 2003 budget proposes $7.7 billion overall for transportation safety funding, including $371 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, according to the DOT, an increase of 8 percent. Of that amount, $116 million anticipates implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement trucking provisions and will go to improve safety enforcement operations and construct inspection facilities along the southern border. The $116 million includes $61 million for the border enforcement program, $47 million for border infrastructure improvements, and $8 million to improve state safety enforcement operations.