1975 Ford Decision Memo on Highway Funding
This is a series of memos presented to President Ford in May 1975 requesting his decisions on highway funding policy for fiscal 1976 and thereafter. The main issue was that the newly created Congressional budget process had ended the practice of executive branch “impoundment” of money (including highway contract authority), which was causing a huge increase in the amount of highway contract authority available to states for obligation.
Ford agreed with the recommendation of his advisers to “negotiate with key congressional committees a revised 1976 funding level…controlled by a legislative limitation on 1976 obligations…” An obligation limitation on the highway program was included for the first time in the FY 1976 DOT appropriations act (see the OMB summary of that act here) and has been included in every appropriations law since.
The memo also requested Ford’s decisions on three other highway policy matters – accelerating the Administration’s plans for state “preemption” of one cent per gallon of the federal gas tax; allowing Interstate highway money to be used for mass transit substitute projects; and whether to require USDOT to delegate all project approvals for non-Interstate highway projects to states in the event that the environmental approval process got delegated to states. The series of memos also reaches back to January 1975 for a summary of Ford Administration highway and aviation reauthorization proposals.
Memos are in reverse chronological order.