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

FY22 Appropriations Endgame Talks Commence, With February Deadline Looming

FY22 Appropriations Endgame Talks Commence, With February Deadline Looming

The bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees held a meeting  yesterday to begin discussions of how to resolve...

No Progress on FY22 Fiscal Issues, March 1 Looms As New Deadline

No Progress on FY22 Fiscal Issues, March 1 Looms As New Deadline

The Second Session of the 117th Congress has begun, and the opening months will be devoted to trying and finish the leftover business of...

USDOT Budget for FY 2022 Should Top $140 Billion

USDOT Budget for FY 2022 Should Top $140 Billion

With the influx of extra funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, total funding for the U.S. Department of Transportation...

Manchin Says He Won't Support Reconciliation Bill, Leaving Democrats in Limbo

Manchin Says He Won't Support Reconciliation Bill, Leaving Democrats in Limbo

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) made headlines yesterday when he very publicly withdrew his support from the pending budget reconciliation bill,...

Senate Action on Budget Reconciliation Bill Slips to January as Congress Prepares to Adjourn for the Year

Senate Action on Budget Reconciliation Bill Slips to January as Congress Prepares to Adjourn for the Year

The U.S. Senate will be postponing floor consideration of the multi-trillion-dollar budget reconciliation bill until January 2022 at the...

EPW Panel Releases Revised Text of Its Budget Reconciliation Title

EPW Panel Releases Revised Text of Its Budget Reconciliation Title

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today released its title of the "Build Back Better" budget reconciliation bill today, the...

FHWA Apportions $52.5 Billion in IIJA Highway Contract Authority to State DOTs

FHWA Apportions $52.5 Billion in IIJA Highway Contract Authority to State DOTs

Yesterday, the Federal Highway Administration formally gave state DOTs $52.5 billion in highway contract authority as the first annual...

Budget Reconciliation Bill Still Stuck in

Budget Reconciliation Bill Still Stuck in "Byrd Bath" Process

Senate staffers hope to begin the "Byrd bath" process for the budget reconciliation bill next week – a quasi-judicial proceeding whereby...

Appropriations Stopgap Extended to Feb. 18, Delaying Some Infrastructure Funding Increases

Appropriations Stopgap Extended to Feb. 18, Delaying Some Infrastructure Funding Increases

Good news: the government shutdown that was possibly to have started tonight has been averted, thanks to legislation passed by Congress...

Biden Signs Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Into Law

Biden Signs Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Into Law

After a festive November 15 ceremony, President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan infrastructure bill (the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs...

List of FY21 RAISE Grants (Capital Only)

List of FY21 RAISE Grants (Capital Only)

This is a PDF of a spreadsheet listing all 63 RAISE grants for capital projects for fiscal year 2021, alpha by state postal code, showing...

CBO Warns $2.2 Billion in BBB's Transit, High-Speed Rail Funding Will Never Be Spent

CBO Warns $2.2 Billion in BBB's Transit, High-Speed Rail Funding Will Never Be Spent

As part of the process of scoring the omnibus budget reconciliation bill (H.R. 5376, a.k.a. Build Back Better, or BBB), the nonpartisan...

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