March 2, 2009
FY 2009 Omnibus Bill Provides Record $10.23 Billion for Public Transit
By JOHN R. BELL, Program Manager-Communications
The long-awaited Fiscal Year 2009 federal budget omnibus bill passed Feb. 25 by the U.S. House of Representatives includes $10.23 billion in new budget authority for public transportation--$740 million more than the FY 2008 budget and an all-time high for transit.
The bill is expected to be considered in the Senate next week.
The funding level in the omnibus is a 7.8 percent increase over FY 2008 for transit funding, but $106 million less than the level authorized in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU).
The bill passed the House by a vote of 245 to 178.
In 2008, the 110th Congress chose to pass complete FY 2009 funding bills for only three Cabinet departments: Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security. The other 12 Cabinet departments—including U.S. DOT—have instead been operating under a continuing resolution that expires March 6.
Therefore, Congress must pass a budget omnibus bill by that date to fund the remaining departments through Sept. 30—which is also when SAFETEA-LU expires.
FY 2009 appropriations for the Federal Transit Administration would total $10.23 billion under the House bill, broken down as follows:
* Formula Programs: $7.37 billion—the full level authorized by SAFETEA-LU for each program, and a growth of more than $430 million from FY 2008 appropriated levels;
* Bus and Bus Facilities Grants: $884 million—$100 million short of the SAFETEA-LU authorized level, but still nearly $61 million more than last year;
* New Starts and Small Starts: $1.81 billion—matching the level authorized in SAFETEA-LU and $240 million above FY 2008 levels; and
* Research Grants: $67 million. The $2.8 million shortfall from the level of funding authorized in SAFETEA-LU is reflected in appropriations for national research programs.
The Omnibus Appropriations Act also includes funding for the following programs:
* Rail Safety: $1.4 million to implement the requirements of the Rail Safety and Improvement Act of 2008;
* Passenger Rail: $90 million for capital assistance to states for intercity passenger rail service, a growth of $60 million from FY 2008 levels; and
* Amtrak: $1.49 billion for operations, capital improvements, and debt service, $165 million more than the amount appropriated in FY 2008.
The above funds are in addition to those included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).