Friday, November 13, 2009
Feast and Famine
There was widespread speculation that before September 30, 2009 arrived, Congress would do away with the rescission, and let states have that money to build projects. Ultimately, that didn’t happen. For Missouri, that meant $202 million of potential projects were wiped off the books. We didn’t have to cancel any projects because we were allowed to parcel the rescission among the programs where there was still a difference between the amount originally apportioned to Missouri and the amount we’d already obligated to specific projects.
But in that unobligated difference were a world of possibilities. As I’ve read newspaper stories from around the state, local officials have commented on bridges that will be delayed for a year or more, and the need to regroup and figure out how to get planned projects off paper and make them reality.
As if that weren’t bad enough, the “continuing resolutions” Congress has passed to keep the federal program operating after SAFETEA-LU’s expiration have made finances even tighter. Continuing resolutions aren’t anything new. After the previous federal bill expired in September 2003, we had twelve continuing resolutions before SAFETEA-LU passed in August 2005. But they gave states slightly more money than in the expired bill. Due to the fiscal year 2009 rescissions, the two continuing resolutions we’ve had so far (one for the month of October, and a second one that runs through December 18) have given us federal funds not at the SAFETEA-LU level, but at that amount less rescinded amounts. So when you compare federal funds available for the first 75 days of this federal fiscal year to what we expected (level funding from last year), MoDOT and local planning partners have $57 million less available to obligate than we planned. That’s a difference of 30 percent.
Posted by Laura Holloway at 8:16 AM