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Eno Transportation Weekly

Texas Is Once Again the Only Highway “Donor State” As FHWA Distributes $42B in FY19 Funding

October 4, 2018

On the first day of the new fiscal year, the Federal Highway Administration issued a formal notice apportioning $42.3 billion in highway formula contract authority to state governments. The main notice apportions $42.355 billion in funding, but a second notice then takes back $39.6 million of the money for budgetary sequestration, for a net total of $42.316 billion.

The gross total is the precise amount predicted in December 2015 when the conference report on the FAST Act was presented to Congress, but the distribution to states is slightly different, because once again, Texas is the only state to have triggered the 95 percent “donor state” rule in 23 U.S.C. §104(c)(1)(B).

Because Texas’s estimated fiscal year 2017 excise tax payments to the Highway Trust Fund’s Highway Account totaled $3.99 billion, Texas’s total highway formula funding for 2019 was guaranteed to be at least 95 percent of that, or $3.79 billion. The Lone Star State’s revised FY 2019 formula apportionment was $56.9 million more than originally predicted in December 2015, and that money was then proportionally taken out of the apportionments of the other 49 states and the District of Columbia.

(Texas actually made more Highway Account tax payments than California, despite having almost 40 percent fewer people (39.5 million people in California per the 2017 Census estimates vs 28.3 million in Texas). Put another way, the residents of California paid $86.53 per capita in excise taxes into the Highway Account in 2017, versus Texans paying $141.04 per capita in excise taxes.)

This means it is as good at time as any to take a quick look at how the Highway Trust Fund going bankrupt has affected the old donor-donee arguments between states. As the table at the end of this article shows, Texas is the only state whose highway formula funding to Highway Account tax payment ratio, in terms of dollars in vs dollars out, is less than 100 percent. Every other state is getting more money than it put in, from Alaska (which gets 680 cents of highway formula funding for every dollar of tax payments) down to Colorado (the only other state close to being a donor state, at 101 cents on the dollar of tax payments).

The excess, of course, comes from the $51.9 billion of general fund bailout money deposited in the Highway Account by the FAST Act, which is equivalent to about one-and-a-half years of Highway Account excise tax receipts and which keeps the Highway Account solvent until sometime in spring or summer of 2021.

In the aggregate, total highway formula funding for 2019 was 119 percent of total 2017 Highway Account excise tax receipts.

In addition, so-called “allocated” (non-formula) highway programs – FHWA administrative overhead and research programs, highways on federal lands and in U.S. territories, FASTLANE grants, and TIFIA loans – are not included in the donor state calculation and totaled an additional $3.9 billion in contract authority in 2019, all of which can be presumed to have been supported from the general fund bailouts.

And the donor state calculation in title 23 does not apply to the HTF’s Mass Transit Account, which received $5.286 billion in excise taxes in 2017 (and which got $18.1 billion in general fund bailout money in the FAST Act, or 3.4 years worth of excise taxes, because the overspending problem is proportionally much worse in the Mass Transit Account than it is in the Highway Account). The Federal Transit Administration’s annual apportionment tables are not broken down by state, making a donor-donee comparison of the Mass Transit Account difficult (but it’s a safe bet that New York is the mega-donee and about 40+ states are donors in that regard).

FY 2017 Highway Trust Fund Highway Account Tax Payments Attributed to States, vs. FY 2019 Highway Contract Authority Formula Apportionments

Millions of dollars.
FY 2017 FY 2019 Funding Funding
HTF-HA Highway Exceeds As Pct. Of
Tax Payments Formula C.A. Taxes By: Taxes
Alabama $738.7 $819.3 $80.7 111%
Alaska $79.6 $541.5 $461.9 680%
Arizona $722.8 $790.2 $67.4 109%
Arkansas $442.0 $559.1 $117.2 127%
California $3,421.2 $3,963.8 $542.5 116%
Colorado $571.4 $577.5 $6.1 101%
Connecticut $325.4 $542.4 $217.0 167%
Delaware $97.1 $182.7 $85.6 188%
Dist. of Col. $23.9 $172.3 $148.4 721%
Florida $1,881.7 $2,046.2 $164.5 109%
Georgia $1,185.9 $1,394.4 $208.6 118%
Hawaii $88.9 $182.7 $93.8 206%
Idaho $216.3 $308.9 $92.6 143%
Illinois $1,273.2 $1,535.4 $262.2 121%
Indiana $914.9 $1,029.0 $114.2 112%
Iowa $496.3 $530.8 $34.5 107%
Kansas $364.1 $408.1 $44.0 112%
Kentucky $605.3 $717.6 $112.3 119%
Louisiana $577.0 $758.0 $181.0 131%
Maine $173.5 $199.4 $25.8 115%
Maryland $606.0 $649.0 $43.0 107%
Massachusetts $591.7 $655.9 $64.2 111%
Michigan $1,050.2 $1,137.1 $86.8 108%
Minnesota $664.3 $704.2 $39.9 106%
Mississippi $501.1 $522.3 $21.2 104%
Missouri $844.6 $1,022.4 $177.8 121%
Montana $167.7 $443.1 $275.4 264%
Nebraska $292.6 $312.2 $19.6 107%
Nevada $290.9 $392.2 $101.3 135%
New Hampshire $140.2 $178.4 $38.2 127%
New Jersey $958.0 $1,078.3 $120.3 113%
New Mexico $325.6 $396.6 $71.0 122%
New York $1,362.7 $1,812.8 $450.0 133%
North Carolina $1,098.5 $1,126.3 $27.8 103%
North Dakota $162.0 $268.1 $106.1 166%
Ohio $1,318.1 $1,447.6 $129.5 110%
Oklahoma $591.3 $684.9 $93.6 116%
Oregon $431.3 $539.8 $108.5 125%
Pennsylvania $1,263.5 $1,771.9 $508.4 140%
Rhode Island $75.9 $236.2 $160.3 311%
South Carolina $697.6 $723.2 $25.5 104%
South Dakota $150.3 $304.6 $154.2 203%
Tennessee $851.8 $912.6 $60.8 107%
Texas $3,992.1 $3,790.2 -$202.0 95%
Utah $347.8 $375.0 $27.2 108%
Vermont $71.5 $219.2 $147.7 306%
Virginia $979.5 $1,099.0 $119.5 112%
Washington $660.9 $732.1 $71.2 111%
West Virginia $221.5 $472.0 $250.5 213%
Wisconsin $661.2 $812.6 $151.4 123%
Wyoming $163.7 $276.7 $112.9 169%
TOTAL $35,733.5 $42,355.4 $6,621.9 119%
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