CR for 2007 Fully Funds Motor Carrier Safety
Last week, the House passed a long-term Fiscal Year 2007 continuing resolution (CR) for the federal government that included DOT-FMCSA programs. It is expected to be taken up by the Senate this week. The temporary CR passed by the last Congress is due to expire on February 15. Despite the fact that most government-wide programs are funded at 2006 levels in the long-term CR, all FMCSA programs, including state grant programs, are funded at the full SAFETEA-LU authorized levels for 2007. This is good news.
The detailed state grant funding levels for 2007 include:
|$||25 M||CDL Grant Program|
|$||32 M||Border Grant Program|
|$||3 M||Safety Data Improvement|
|$||7 M||CDLIS Modernization|
An additional $3.5 M has been made available for state grant programs under a transfer of Revenue Aligned Budget Authority (RABA) from FHWA. The 2007 level is more than $18 million above 2006.
The amount available for all other FMCSA programs is $223 M.
SSRS Extension Still on the Table
CVSA and NARUC (National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners) are continuing efforts to seek an extension of SSRS carrier fees until such time as the new Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) plan is fully implemented. It appears unlikely that the extension can be included in the long-term 2007 CR coming before the Senate this week, but there may be other legislative vehicles coming along in the near future, including a SAFETEA-LU Corrections bill.
Under SAFETEA-LU, states no longer have the authority to collect SSRS fees from for-hire motor carriers as of January 1, 2007. Since the UCR is not yet implemented, this lapse of revenue for the 37 SSRS states is beginning to impact motor carrier safety programs in these states. Some states will have to start terminating motor carrier inspectors as early as April 1. CDL licensing, compliance review and new entrant programs will be affected in other states.
The intent of the UCR provisions in SAFETEA-LU is to create a new carrier registration system and also create a new UCR carrier fee structure that “makes the states whole” for revenues lost to the states when SSRS fees are repealed. The current gap in state funding is therefore inconsistent with the UCR provisions in SAFETEA-LU.
While the new UCR Board has been working hard to fulfill its mission of developing and implementing a new UCR plan since its first meeting in June of 2006, FMCSA’s determination last summer that the Administrative Procedures Act applies to the new UCR Board has slowed down the process of developing and implementing a new UCR plan. The timeline for development of the new plan remains uncertain.
The SSRS/UCR issue is critical and we will keep you advised of further developments.
FMCSA Releases 2008 Budget
The Bush Administration sent its 2008 budget to the Congress this week. FMCSA’s 2008 budget has been released as well. We will report on this in more detail in the near future.