The National Association of Counties (NACo) recently released a report titled “The Road Ahead: County Transportation Funding and Financing.” As provided in NACo’s press release, this report “provides an analysis of county transportation funding sources, challenges and solutions across the 48 states with county governments.”
The report finds that:
· the federal and state funding for county transportation projects is increasingly inadequate
· counties face the dilemma of rising costs of transportation projects, increasing traffic volumes and limitations on their ability to generate revenue and
· counties have adopted additional funding and financing mechanisms, but they are not sufficient to cover the needs of their economies and residents.
Maryland’s county struggles are highlighted in the findings section of the report in a paragraph summarizing the “Effects of the Recession on State Budgets: “
Many states experienced significant budget shortfalls following the recession and some diverted money from transportation to their general funds to balance their budgets. This resulted in a smaller pool of state money available for county roads and bridges. For example, the state of Maryland registered budget shortfalls during the latest recession, reaching a deficit of 20.3 percent of the state’s general fund budget in fiscal year (FY) 2010.44 The same year, the state began diverting money from dedicated highway user revenues (HURs) – including the state gas tax and vehicle rental tax – to balance its general budget. In addition, it cut the share of state highway funding going to local governments from 30 percent to 9.6 percent. As a result, the total funds available to Maryland local governments for roads and bridges decreased from $467 million in FY2009 to $164 million in FY2010.45 Through subsequent changes in the funding formula, also driven by state budget woes, these reductions have been made permanent. Baltimore City now receives an allocation reduced by $60 million compared to pre-recession levels, and the remaining 23 counties receive only $26.2 million, down a staggering 90 percent from prior levels. Based on this allocation, Maryland counties lost around $300 million in transportation funding in each year beginning in FY2009.46
The report also has a companion data tool the “Road Ahead Interactive” that compares key data about each state’s transportation system and provides access to individual state profiles.