Statement by Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell
Subcommittee on Transportation, Infrastructure, and Nuclear Safety
Hearing to examine the Administration's FY 03 Budget proposal,
the Revenue Aligned Budget Authority (RABA) mechanism and budget-related reauthorization issues
February 11, 2002
Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you for scheduling this important hearing. This is an issue that I know is very important as it is to the rest of the West, including Colorado. I would also like to thank the distinguished panel for taking the time to meet with us today.
Transportation is the grease that makes our economic engine go. Traffic congestion only slows the engine and cost businesses and individuals billions of dollars a year due to extra fuel costs, late deliveries, and lost production. Traffic congestion is also taking a toll on our nation's families. Parents are now getting home to their children later and
The passage of the Transportation Equity Act for the 2151 Century (TEA-21) has helped states start to solve many of these problems. The Colorado Department of Transportation (COOT) has been able to increase its budget from $200 million to $300 million a year. This has allowed COOT to undertake projects that help ease the stress on Colorado roads.
However, there are also problems with TEA-21. Current projects show a $4.4 billion shortfall in the FY 2003 budget, a more than $8 billion drop from the total TEA-21 funding from FY 2002 levels. This means that the state would Colorado would lose $59 million a 19 percent decrease from the year before. It is estimated that a budget decrease of this level would result in the loss of over 3,600 jobs in Colorado over the next seven years and 287,000 nationally during that same length of time.
Now is not the time to decrease funding for our nations highways. This higher level of funding has allowed COOT to move forward with transportation projects that would not have been able to be completed without TEA-21 and now is not the time to slow the this progress.
In addition, Colorado, along with many other states, is experiencing state budget reductions. This "double whammy" will result in additional project reductions.
Now is not the time to decrease funding for our nation's highways. The higher level of funding has allowed COOT to move forward with transportation projects that would not been able to be completed without TEA-21 and now is not the time to slow this progress.
Last week I signed on as an original cosponsor to the Highway Funding Restoration Act of 2002, which was introduced by leadership in this Committee and fully supported in a bipartisan manner. This legislation would bring the FY2003 highway funding up to the level set in TEA-21.
In closing, transportation remains a top priority in Colorado. Having a transportation system that moves people and goods is important to our economic health and quality of life. I remain committed to working with this committee throughout the year and I look forward to these discussions today on this important issue.
Thank you Mr. Chairman