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Letter to Jodi Rell, Governor of Connecticut, Re: Federal Transportation Funding Increase

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

CT Delegation Highlights Federal Transportation Funding Increase

The entire Connecticut Delegation wrote to Governor M. Jodi Rell contesting the assertion that Connecticut saw a reduction in federal transportation funding. The delegation countered the claims by outlining the actual increase in resources that the Connecticut Department of Transportation will receive in fiscal year 2008 for critical transportation initiatives.

"We recognize the critical importance that investing in Connecticut's transportation infrastructure means not only to our citizens' way of life, but also for job creation and economic growth in our state. We do not agree, however, with your position that Connecticut saw a reduction in Federal Highway Administration funding this year. Connecticut's obligation limit (the actual amount of funds received) rose from $406.57 million in FY 2007 to $448.40 million in FY 2008," the delegation wrote in the letter.

Because of the intricacies of federal transportation funding, Connecticut actually saw a $42 million increase in funds for this current fiscal year. This includes $33.5 million, the state can put toward repairing any of its 66 structurally deficient bridges statewide. These additional funds are a direct result of the $1 billion Congress included in the Transportation funding bill to address the country's aging bridges.

"We are committed to continuing to work with you to ensure that the state is able to undertake initiatives to rebuild our transportation infrastructure," the delegation continued. "In the immediate-term, that means working to ensure that the Highway Trust Fund is solvent, appropriating SAFETEA-LU funding obligations for the upcoming year and making sure that the state is using all available sources of funding wisely and efficiently. In the long-term, it means working together to develop a comprehensive vision to ensure Connecticut has the transportation infrastructure needed to compete in the globalized economy of the 21st century."

Below is the text of the letter.

April 9, 2008

The Honorable M. Jodi Rell
Governor
State Capitol
Hartford, CT 06106

Dear Governor Rell:

We write to thank you for your letter expressing concern regarding the level of federal highway funds appropriated to Connecticut for fiscal year (FY) 2008. Like you, we recognize the critical importance that investing in Connecticut's transportation infrastructure means not only to our citizens' way of life, but also for job creation and economic growth in our state.

We do not agree, however, with your position that Connecticut saw a reduction in Federal Highway Administration funding this year. More specifically, the claim that funding was cut by $45.55 million does not take into consideration the difference between a state's contract authority and obligation limit. As you may be aware, a state's contract authority is the maximum amount of funding that the state can pledge to each highway program (e.g., Interstate Maintenance, Bridges). A state's obligation limit is the actual amount of Federal resources provided by the appropriators each year.

Under both Republican and Democratic-controlled Congresses, states have typically received between 85 to 92 percent of their SAFETEA-LU authorized contract authority on a year-to-year basis. This year was no different as states will be able to obligate 92 percent of their new contact authority. The figure of $45.55 million you cited in your letter is a reduction to Connecticut's contract authority in FY 2008. However, Connecticut's obligation limit (the actual amount of funds received) rose from $406.57 million in FY 2007 to $448.40 million in FY 2008.

Appropriating funds in this manner will allow the Connecticut Department of Transportation more flexibility in determining the amount they want to obligate to any given project, from highways to roads to bridges. With regard to bridges, we worked to provide an extra $1 billion in real money to address aging bridges throughout the nation following the I-35 bridge collapse. As a result of this increase, Connecticut will actually receive an additional $33.5 million above the guaranteed highway funding level to put toward repairing any of the 66 structurally deficient bridges across the state.

Please know that the entire delegation in a bipartisan manner supported the FY 2008 transportation appropriations measure that was signed into law. We rejected the Administration's proposal to cut $631 million across the board in real highway obligations in 2008 that would have actually resulted in fewer projects for the state. As a result, Connecticut will see an increase of $18.42 million over what the state would have received under the president's budget for a wide-range of vital transportation infrastructure projects. Facing cuts in the president's budget once again this year, we will continue to work as a delegation to ensure that the Connecticut Department of Transportation receives the funding it expects in FY 2009 for these projects.

As importantly, we are committed to continuing to work with you to ensure that the state is able to undertake initiatives to rebuild our transportation infrastructure. In the immediate-term, that means working to ensure that the Highway Trust Fund is solvent, appropriating SAFETEA-LU funding obligations for the upcoming year and making sure that the state is using all available sources of funding wisely and efficiently. In the long-term, it means working together to develop a comprehensive vision to ensure Connecticut has the transportation infrastructure needed to compete in the globalized economy of the 21st century.

We look forward to working with you on these critical issues.

CHRISTOPHER J. DODD
JOSEPH I. LIEBERMAN
CHRISTOPHER SHAYS
ROSA L. DeLAURO
JOHN B. LARSON
JOE COURTNEY
CHRISTOPHER S. MURPHY


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