The Highway Trust Fund Problem in Two Charts

The Highway Trust Fund Problem in Two Charts

February 08, 2019  | Jeff Davis

February 8, 2019

While putting together my presentation for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce infrastructure summit earlier this week, I tried to distill the whole Highway Trust Fund financial problem into a couple of charts that would fit on a single wide-screen PowerPoint slide. Here are the results.

The first chart shows the cash flow of the Highway Trust Fund in its totality for the first 51 years of its existence – fiscal years 1957 through 2007. The blue column on the left is $715,4 billion in excise tax receipts, and the gray bar at the top of the blue column is $30.2 billion in interest earned on balances (and a few dollars in safety penalty deposits). The orange bar at right represents $727.5 billion in spending outlays. When one subtracts the $8 billion in balances canceled by the TEA21 law in 1998, that’s about $738 billion in deposits versus $728 billion in spending.

The second chart, below, shows the results since then – the actual results for fiscal years 2008-2018, plus the new Congressional Budget Office baseline projections for fiscal year 2019 and 2020 (to the end of the current authorization period). The color scheme and layout is the same, except that the gray bar for interest and penalties is too small to be seen ($2.7 billion or so). Over this period, $519.5 billion in actual tax receipts is matched against $652.9 billion in spending. In order to make good on that difference, the yellow column on top of the blue column at left represents $143.6 billion in bailout transfers (almost all of it from the general fund of the Treasury) over the FY 2008-2020 period.

All told, tax receipts plus interest and penalties plus bailouts is estimated to equal $666 billion over that period, versus spending estimates of $653 billion. This would leave the Highway Trust Fund with about $13 billion in cash at the end of the FAST Act on September 30, 2020, enabling it to putter along under a short-term funding extension until sometime in spring or summer 2021 when it will run out of money (the Mass Transit Account first, then the Highway Account).

Share

Related Articles

$3 Trillion House Bill Up for Vote Today; Includes Massive Muni Aid, Frontline Transportation Worker Pay Subsidies

$3 Trillion House Bill Up for Vote Today; Includes Massive Muni Aid, Frontline Transportation Worker Pay Subsidies

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote late today on a $3+ trillion coronavirus response bill drafted by House Democrats....

Second House COVID Bill Focuses Transit Aid on Big City Population, Not Transit Use

Second House COVID Bill Focuses Transit Aid on Big City Population, Not Transit Use

The $3+ trillion coronavirus response legislation to be considered by the House this week (H.R. 6800, the "HEROES Act") appropriates $15.75...

Highway Funding in New House COVID Bill Reinforces Funding Formula Inequities

Highway Funding in New House COVID Bill Reinforces Funding Formula Inequities

Yesterday's $3+ trillion coronavirus relief bill introduced by House Democrats (H.R. 6800, the HEROES Act) includes a $15 billion...

$15 Billion for State DOTs, $15.75 Billion More For Transit in Latest House Democratic COVID Bill

$15 Billion for State DOTs, $15.75 Billion More For Transit in Latest House Democratic COVID Bill

This afternoon, House Democrats unveiled their $3 trillion, 1,815-page coronavirus response bill, that follows the $2.6 trillion bill...

Be Part of the Conversation
Sign up to receive news, events, publications, and course notifications.
No thanks