Going Nowhere FAST: Highway Bill Exacerbates Major Transportation Funding Problems
On December 1, a joint House and Senate conference committee reported the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST), a five-year, $305 billion surface transportation authorization. The first multi-year transportation bill considered since 2012, FAST stemmed from similar six-year transportation authorizations: The House’s Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act (STRR), which it passed in November, and the Senate’s Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act (DRIVE), which it cleared in July.
While there has been much bipartisan fanfare regarding this “long-term” bill, the proposal is fiscally irresponsible and was dubiously crafted. The bill does not include any meaningful reforms to address the structural problems in highway funding, while making many of the problems worse by increasing spending out of the deeply troubled Highway Trust Fund that has already required $73 billion in bailouts since 2008. FAST should be regarded as yet another bailout of the Highway Trust Fund that would leave federal highway financing even worse off when the bill’s money runs out.