The Highway Trust Fund, which the federal government uses to pay for transportation projects, could run out of money by 2015, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysts warned in a statement issued Wednesday.
"The current trajectory of the Highway Trust Fund is unsustainable. Starting in fiscal 2015, the trust fund will have insufficient amounts to meet all of its obligations, resulting in steadily accumulating shortfalls," the statement read.
Since 2008, Congress has avoided shortfalls by transferring $41 billion from the Treasury's general fund to the Highway Trust Fund. An additional transfer of $12.6 billion has been authorized for 2014. If Congress chooses to continue to authorize such transfers, it would have to transfer an additional $14 billion to prevent a shortfall in 2015, the CBO said.
Ways to avoid the shortfall would be to substantially cut spending for surface transportation programs, boost revenue, or a combination of the two, the office recommended.
"Bringing the trust fund into balance in 2015 would require cutting the authority to obligate funds in that year from about $51 billion projected under current law to about $4 billion, raising the taxes on motor fuels by about 10 cents per gallon, or undertaking some combination of those options," CBO officials said.
Currently, the tax on motor fuels is 18.4 cents per gallon on gasoline and ethanol-blended fuels, and 24.4 cents per gallon on diesel fuels. Those taxes have not been raised since 1993.
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