President Trump’s proposed budget for 2018 will cut funding to the DOT by $2.4 billion – a 13% reduction in funding from the previous year. The DOT’s TIGER grants will be among the programs eliminated entirely.
The proposed budget is titled “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.” It covers only areas on the federal budget which are categorized as “Discretionary spending.” These are budget items which must be re-approved by Congress every year and include categories like Defense, Homeland Security, Education, Justice, Labor, Transportation, and more.
If the proposed budget is approved, every agency except Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense, would have their budgets cut to make room for a $52.3 billion increase in defense spending. While the Department of Education (-$9.2 billion), the State Department (-$10.9 billion), and the Department of Health and Human Services (-$12.6 billion) would receive the largest cuts, the Department of Transportation’s budget would also be cut by $2.4 billion, a reduction of 13% from the 2017 budget.
Not all DOT programs being cut have to do with roads and highways. For example, the proposed budget would eliminate a program that subsidizes commercial flights to and from rural airports – a move which may prove unpopular with rural Republicans and Democrats.
Of concern to the trucking industry however is the elimination of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program. The budget estimates that eliminating it would save $499 million. The reason given for eliminating the grants is that projects which are eligible for TIGER grants are “generally eligible for funding” by other programs.
TIGER grants take federal money and give it to states to spend on infrastructure projects. Past TIGER projects include truck parking initiatives such as a $25 million grant to eight Midwestern states to support truck driver parking. According to the DOT, $1.7 billion in TIGER grant money has gone toward projects that aim to directly benefit our nation’s roadways since 2009.
Mick Mulvaney, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in his forward to the proposal that this “is not the full Federal budget.” Instead Mulvaney referred to the document as a “blueprint” which would provide people “with a view of the priorities of the President and his Administration.”
According to the White House, if it were to move forward, President Trump’s promised infrastructure spending package would be separate from the current proposed DOT budget.