State starting to spend $3.6 billion in FAST Act funds

This week Governor Inslee’s office formally communicated the state’s approach to the distribution of almost $3.6 billion in federal FAST Act funds: Status quo for now, and a new policy developed after lawmakers leave Olympia this year.

[caption id="attachment_8686" align="alignleft" width="1077"]The state's old policy for splitting federal funds does not reflect that new performance measures are designed to guide federal funding for state and local roads. The state's old policy for splitting federal funds does not reflect that new performance measures are designed to guide federal funding for state and local roads.[/caption]

 

This week's announcement impacts changes being made to the state transportation budget in the current 60 day session of the state legislature, and decisions throughout the state about which projects will receive federal funds over the next five years.

Here’s what the Governor’s office said this week:

”The Governor’s office and the Office of Financial Management have communicated with legislative transportation committee chairs about a short-term and long-term plan for allocating FAST Act money: For the remainder of the 2015-17 biennium, the current 66 percent-34 percent state/local split will remain for the core FHWA programs with the exception of the new freight program formula funds.”

The upcoming state transportation revenue forecast, due next week, will be the first to include the FAST Act.

Over the next few weeks the Governor and lawmakers will use that forecast to finalize the supplemental state transportation budget through June 2017.

Sometime this spring, the Governor’s office expects to convene a group to review changes in the FAST Act and recommend a new policy:

“The new split agreement from our group discussion would then be recommended to the Governor and Legislature for the 2017-19 state biennial budget period through the remainder of the FAST Act.”

The last time this happened was in 2012, two meetings were held to modify distributions within the old 64% state, 34% local split.

This time, the door is open to consider a new split.

Local elected leaders around the state will be making the case for a policy that better meets the needs of all the parts of the state’s transportation system.