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House proposes cuts to TIGER and transit construction, stable funding for other programs for fiscal 2016

The House Appropriations Committee introduced a Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) bill for fiscal 2016 that, as in years past, features heavy cuts to TIGER, New Starts and Amtrak.

The bill, approved by the T-HUD subcommittee and headed back to the full Appropriations Committee for markup and a vote, maintains funding rates for federal highway and mass transit formula dollars, $40.3 billion and $8.6 billion respectively. Of course, these funding levels assume that Congress is going to act to find enough money to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent past this June or July, and also move to either reauthorize or extend MAP-21 after its May 31st expiration. Without either action, there won’t be any money for transportation past that deadline, much less for the entire next fiscal year.

Meanwhile, other key programs are facing heavy cuts.

TIGER: The overwhelmingly popular TIGER program would shrink from $500 million to $100 million. In addition, the size of grants would be far smaller, within a range of $2-15 million, down from last year’s range of $10-200 million. This year’s T-HUD also reduces the share that the federal government will cover for TIGER projects, from 60 percent to 50 percent, requiring more local or state money to be brought to the table.

The silver lining in all this is that the House did not repeat last year’s attempt to limit eligibility to only road and port projects, a move that would have left out the wide range of multimodal projects that have benefited the most from this innovative program.

New Starts & Small Starts: These programs that fund new rail, rapid bus and streetcar construction would receive $1.92 billion in funding, down from last year’s $2.12 billion in the final budget. The new bill would also reduce the federal government’s share of New Starts projects from 60 percent to 50 percent.

Amtrak: Amtrak would have a budget of $1.1 billion. The bill actually adds $39 million to the rail service’s operational costs, but cuts $290 million from its capital budget.

The Senate has yet to release its own budget, but for the last few years, the Senate has prioritized funding for many of these important programs. However, with the change in leadership in the Senate in this Congress, it’s unclear if things could play out similarly this year compared to years past.

Members can read our full summary memo on the THUD bill below.

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