The President's Budget: Transportation Edition

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(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) President Obama’s proposed 2012 budget of $3.729 trillion slashes spending in many areas, but it is generous to transportation and infrastructure.

The budget calls for a $556 billion six-year transportation bill, a 60 percent increase--when adjusted for inflation--over the last bill, which expired three years ago . That’s even more than the roughly $500 billion transportation bill proposed and stalled during the previous congress.

In the President’s proposed budget, the Department of Transportation gets $129 billion in 2012 . There is substantial money for high-speed rail, as well as several new initiatives including the creation of a national infrastructure bank, and a competitive grants program that alters the way some road spending will be distributed.

Republicans say the increases are unjustified and unpaid for. One notable spending spike is an immediate $50 billion “up front boost” that Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood says will “jump start job creation while laying the foundation for” competitiveness. House Budget Committee Chair, Paul Ryan issued a critique of the budget that included characterized the spending as a $435 billion transportation tax.

House Transportation Committee Chairman, John Mica, was still reviewing the budget proposal and has no comment yet.