The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) is disappointment over the funding levels and programmatic changes in federal port-related programs that were proposed in President Obama’s fiscal 2016 budget.
The 2016 budget includes a USD 478 billion, six-year surface transportation reauthorization proposal, to be paid for with transition revenue from business tax reform.
‘‘These potential benefits to landside freight transportation, however, could be heavily for naught if the budget’s proposed cuts to waterside infrastructure programs are adopted,” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA’s president and CEO. ”If we can’t get the goods efficiently and competitively into and out of our country through seaports and waterside navigation channels, American manufacturers won’t be able to receive the materials and/or components they need, and they as well as U.S. farmers, won’t be able to competitively export their products globally. In addition, U.S. retailers and consumers will suffer.”
AAPA noted the proposed budget would reduce the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ funding from the USD 2.33 billion appropriated last year to the USD 1.95 billion budget requested for fiscal 2016.
With the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT)-related budget request remaining unchanged from last year, the HMT funding targets and formulas for equitable distribution established in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014 were far from met.
WRRDA set a funding target for fiscal 2016 of USD 1.32 billion. The USD 915 million requested in the budget equates to only 47 percent of the estimated calendar year 2015 HMT revenue of USD 1.93 billion. Additionally, the request is 16 percent less than the USD 1.1 billion appropriated by Congress for fiscal 2015.
The budget request for the Corps’ coastal navigation construction program also dropped for fiscal 2016, from USD 97 million to USD 81 million. If enacted, it would decline by 16 percent to its lowest level in more than 10 years.
In the environmental arena, the budget for funding the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA), which has been highly successful in helping ports reduce air emissions from older diesel engines, would only provide a third of the current USD 30 million funding level.