Facing a projected deficit of more than $34 billion over the next 18 months, The State of California is cutting back spending across the board, including funding for transportation projects.
The state's Dept. of Finance wants to slash transportation funding by $1.8 billion this year, according to the public advocacy group Transportation California. The group also said a plan is in the works to divert a new sales tax on gasoline voted into existence in Mach 2002 away from road construction needs into the state's general fund.
"When it is storming, it doesn't pay to hold off on repairing the roof," said Transportation California Chairman Bert Sandman in a December 30 letter to Governor Gray Davis. "In this fiscal storm, we can't afford to shortchange the transportation system that is essential to help move the California economy through these difficult times."
Excluding California, state governments are facing up to $50 billion worth of shortfalls in 2003, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal. Those deficits can have a severe impact on national highway construction projects, as states are responsible for 20% of their funding.
In Virginia, Gov. Mark Warner has directed the state's DOT to scale back its construction program to match existing and projected financial resources. That means suspending or delaying more than $250 million in previously approved construction or maintenance costs due to a lack of financial resources, according to his administration.