Friday, February 6, 2015

AAPA Criticizes Proposed Port Funding Decreases

By Mark Edward Nero

The American Association of Port Authorities on Feb. 2 expressed disappointment over funding level and programmatic changes in federal port-related programs included in President Obama’s recently proposed fiscal year 2016 budget.

The proposed budget would reduce the US Army Corps of Engineers’ funding from the $2.33 billion appropriated last year to $1.95 billion for FY 2016. The budget request for the Corps’ coastal navigation construction program also drops for FY 2016, from $97 million to $81 million. If enacted, it would decline by 16 percent to its lowest level in over 10 years.

“The Corps of Engineers’ budget proposal falls well short of the waterside maintenance and modernization needs of this country,” Nagle remarked. “Our nation is at a critical point in maintaining our international competitiveness, and implementation of the FY2016 budget request would result in trade-related infrastructure losing further ground at a time when we are already behind many of our competitors.”

The proposed budget also calls for:
  • Increasing the competitive Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants program to $1.25 billion per year, which is 150 percent more than last year’s $500 million appropriation.
  • Providing $18 billion over six years for a dedicated regional freight infrastructure investment program. The program would support multi-modal, corridor-based projects designed to eliminate existing freight transportation bottlenecks and improve efficiency.
  • Allowing $6 billion over six years to cover the subsidy cost of providing credit assistance for nationally or regionally significant transportation projects through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program. TIFIA leverages private sector investments in public infrastructure projects.

“We’re pleased to see and support the increased funding requested for surface transportation infrastructure, but deeply troubled by the proposed cuts to maintenance and modernization of federal navigation channels, the critical waterside infrastructure that connect our ports and nation to the world marketplace,” AAPA President & CEO Kurt Nagle said.

“If we can’t get the goods efficiently and competitively into and out of our country through seaports and waterside navigation channels,” he continued, “American manufacturers won’t be able to receive the materials and/or components they need, and they as well as US farmers, won’t be able to competitively export their products globally.”