Official: Federal highway deadlock continuesSD Transportation Secretary Darin Bergquist told members of the South Dakota Transportation Commission that the chances appear “very remote” that the US House of Representatives would agree to the two-year plan that was approved by the Senate.
By: Bob Mercer, The Daily Republic
PIERRE — Congress seems unlikely to reach agreement on a new federal funding program for highways and other transportation systems before the program’s latest extension expires March 31, state Transportation Secretary Darin Bergquist said Thursday.
He told members of the South Dakota Transportation Commission that the chances appear “very remote” that the House of Representatives would agree to the two-year plan that was approved by the Senate last week.
Both of South Dakota’s U.S. senators, Democrat Tim Johnson and Republican John Thune, voted for that version, which covers its costs by taking funding from other programs for up to 10 years. It passed 74-22. All of the votes against it came from Republicans.
Bergquist said another short-term extension is the most likely outcome for now. Congress has already passed eight such extensions since the previous multi-year program known as SAFETEA-LU expired Sept. 30, 2009.
South Dakota would see “a slight decrease” in federal funding under the Senate version, known as MAP-21, according to Bergquist, but he noted that’s better than the 30 to 35 percent decrease that was facing South Dakota under earlier versions that were discussed.
“Things are still swirling around there. Not a lot of clarity yet,” he said.
The state Department of Transportation received approximately $374.5 million of federal funds for all purposes in the 2010 budget year and approximately $385.1 million in 2011. DOT is budgeted for $380 million in the current 2012 budget year.
Federal funding covers about 65 percent of DOT’s budget. The remainder comes primarily from fuel-tax revenues and fees charged to motorists.