By Ashley Halsey III
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 14, 2011; 12:21 PM
Proposing to spend $128 billion on transportation in fiscal 2012, the heart of the White House spending plan is a push for a six-year renewal of the nation's transportation blueprint.
The transportation proposal for 2012 is a 68 percent increase over the $76.5 billion expected to be spent in fiscal 2011.
Transportation traditionally has been funded with multi-year programs that allow federal, state and local transportation planners to tackle projects with confidence that the money is guaranteed. The last authorization - a five-year, $285 billion package - expired in September 2009 - and approval of a new six-year reauthorization proposal has been stalled in Congress.
On Monday, the White House proposed that $128 billion in spending for 2012 be the first expenditure in a new $556 billion six-year plan.
The administration wants to invest $8 billion in the coming year, and $53 billion over the next six, to develop high-speed and intercity rail service. The long-term plan would provide $30 billion for a National Infrastructure Bank, a creation intended to put decisions on transportation projects outside the sphere of political influence.
Amtrak is a potential big loser in the White House budget, which would eliminate direct operating subsidies to the rail line. Amtrak received $1.57 billion in capital and debt service grants, and operating subsidies, in fiscal 2010. Under the administration proposal, it would have to compete for funding from a new transportation trust fund.