The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials is leading a 42-organization effort calling on Congress to repeal the impending $7.6 billion rescission of highway contract authority scheduled to occur July 1, 2020 as mandated by the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation or FAST Act.
“This group of diverse national associations that support investment in our nation’s transportation infrastructure is writing once again to urge Congress to repeal [the rescission] by the end of this calendar year,” the November 14 letter said, which mirrors a similar appeal made to Congressional leadership via an earlier letter in September.
“We ask for this action immediately as part of any moving legislation, including FY 2020 appropriations, the National Defense Authorization Act, or another year-end vehicle,” the November letter added.
“It is especially critical to repeal this provision during the current calendar year because in the worst-case scenario, states may be forced to deobligate existing projects in order to provide the necessary amount of contract authority to be rescinded,” it stated. “If this happens next spring or summer at the peak of the construction season, the effect would be especially devastating.”
The letter also emphasized that the automatic funding cuts triggered by the rescission may go deeper than expected. According to Federal Highway Administration data released last week, the total unobligated balances of state highway funding subject to the rescission stands at just over $5.35 billion as of September 30.
That means a further $2 billion-plus would have to be extracted from federal-aid highway contract authority held by states during fiscal year 2020 to meet the mandated $7.6 billion cut.