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High-Speed Rail Funds Get Slashed in Detailed Budget Plan

10:20 AM PDT on April 12, 2011

Just when we thought transportation had gotten off relatively easy in the shutdown-aversion budget deal:

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The House Appropriations Committee has released details [PDF] on the budget agreement between the two houses, including more information on the agreed-to $38.5 billion in cuts. Where we'd heard before that high-speed rail was getting a $1.5 billion haircut, down to the $1 billion for 2011 that President Obama had originally requested, it turns out now that that last billion dollars is being cut too. And to add insult to injury, they're also zeroing out $400 million of rejected Florida rail funds (technically cutting funding from 2010), bringing the grand total of HSR cuts to $2.9 billion.

This is a big blow to one of the president's signature projects, with which he was planning on "winning the future." It further clouds the outlook for his $53 billion proposal for high-speed rail over the next six years, starting in 2012. These budget cuts, of course, are for FY2011, before the $53 billion was to start, but please believe the Republicans aren't looking for a massive increase in rail money for next year either.

TIGER, which had appeared to be safe, is getting $72 million cut from its $600 million budget, and the Appropriations Committee eliminated all funding for "planning, preparation or design" of projects eligible for TIGER funding. For now, the Partnership for Sustainable Communities appears to be safe.

Meanwhile, New Starts transit funding, already slated for $280 million in cuts, is now getting $502 million cut from its $2 billion budget, with another $128 million coming out of Amtrak grants for capital improvements and debt service. They've also cut $3.1 billion in highway contract authority that had not been obligated, as opposed to the $2.5 billion cut announced Friday night.

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