Statement for the Record on the Status of the Highway Trust Fund

Report
April 24, 2013

Statement for the Record by Sarah Puro, Analyst for Surface Transportation Programs, for the Committee on the Budget, U.S. House of Representatives

This statement provides information about CBO’s projections of future spending from the Highway Trust Fund and the agency’s estimates of the excise taxes that will be credited to the fund. By CBO’s estimates, the revenues from the existing excise taxes will fall far short of covering the spending that would result from continuing to obligate funds in the amounts provided for 2013, adjusted for inflation.

Specifically, CBO’s analysis indicates the following:

  • The current trajectory of the Highway Trust Fund is unsustainable. Starting in fiscal year 2015, the trust fund will have insufficient amounts to meet all of its obligations, resulting in steadily accumulating shortfalls.
  • Since 2008, the Congress has avoided such shortfalls by transferring $41 billion from the general fund of the Treasury to the Highway Trust Fund. An additional transfer of $12.6 billion is authorized for 2014. If lawmakers chose to continue such transfers, they would have to transfer an additional $14 billion to prevent a projected shortfall in 2015.
  • Lawmakers could also address that shortfall by substantially reducing spending for surface transportation programs, by boosting revenues, or by adopting some combination of the two. Bringing the trust fund into balance in 2015 would require cutting the authority to obligate funds in that year from about $51 billion projected under current law to about $4 billion, raising the taxes on motor fuels by about 10 cents per gallon, or undertaking some combination of those options.