Transportation Analysis: “State Only” Funds Boom, Shared Funds Stagnate

DLS chart shows the growth in transportation funds is "unshared"
DLS chart shows the growth in transportation funds is “Excluded” from the account shared with locals.

According to a budget analysis prepared by the Department of Legislative Services, revenue excluded from the Gasoline and Motor Vehicle Revenue Account (GMVRA) within the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) will nearly double over the next 6 years.  This is occurring because the transportation revenue bill that passed during the 2013 session (Ch. 429, Acts of 2013) excluded local governments from sharing in any of the new revenues associated with indexing of the gas tax and applying a sales tax on motor fuel. The GMVRA is the account that is used to allocate Highway User Revenues (HUR) to local governments. Prior to FY 2010, local governments received 30% of the revenues within this account. Now they receive less than 10%.

County and municipal governments seek to mitigate this trend, and support a more equitable share of total transportation funding.  Transportation funding restoration is MACo’s top priority for the session. Now that transportation revenues are increasing, local governments should again play a larger role in the State’s Transportation funding plan. MACo would support a reasonable incremental strategy to restore HUR.

The DLS budget analysis was presented to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on January 28, 2014 and discussed in broad terms, revenues and expenditures of the TTF. Subsequent budget hearings will be held for each business unit of MDOT at a later date.  Business units include the following administrations – Aviation, Transit, Motor Vehicle, Port, and State Highway, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and the Secretary’s Office.

As described in the analysis, for the forecast period, FY 2014 – FY 2019, transportation revenues from motor fuel taxes, titling and rental car sales taxes, and corporate income taxes and registration fees are expected to grow at a rate of 2.2% from $1.7 billion in FY 2014 to $1.9 billion in FY 2019.  However, revenues that go into the GMVRA grow by less than 1%.   The revenues excluded from the GMVRA will increase from approximately $800 million FY 2014 to almost $1.6 billion in FY 2019.