RESTORE Act and Funding for Secure Rural Schools/PILT Included in Legislation
By Laura Garcia
TAC Deputy Legislative Director
On June 29, Congress passed the federal surface transportation bill, also known as MAP-21. The bill reauthorizes the federal surface transportation program for 27 months until September 2014 and funds the federal highway program at $39.7 billion for FY 2013 and $40.26 billion for FY 2014. Funding for the transit program — $10.58 billion for FY 2013 and $10.7 billion for FY 2014 — is also included.
The legislation consolidates several highway programs and continues funding for the off-system bridge program, providing approximately $650 million annually to bridges not on the federal-aid system, many of which are county-owned. Additionally, efforts to substantially change the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) planning process were largely rejected. The MPO population threshold remains 50,000, with rural areas receiving new authority in the planning process. The bill also includes provisions which will accelerate federal environmental review of certain construction projects.
The final legislation includes continued funding for the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program and the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program for one year, which will provide financial assistance to eligible counties for infrastructure improvements, among other projects.
The bill also includes the RESTORE Act, which dedicates 80 percent of the Clean Water Act penalty fines from the BP Deep Horizon oil spill to the five affected Gulf Coast states, including Texas, for ecosystem and economic restoration. Additionally, the legislation authorizes a five-year extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
The president signed the legislation on July 6.