GAO: When it comes to highways, all states now receive more funds than they contribute

A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirms that between 2005 and 2009, every state received more Federal-Aid Highway Program dollars than it contributed through the gas tax and other fees. This is a change from the past when the country could be divided into “donor” and “donee” states. Previously it was common that states received far less than they contributed to the Highway Aid program. The change was made possible because roughly $30 billion from the general fund were dispersed to the states over the five years. “A significant amount of highway funding is no longer provided by highway users,” the report states.

The “donor-donee” debate is at the heart of a push for greater state-level authority in transportation funding decisions. Advocates argue that by retaining full control of state funds, cross-subsidies that “penalize” donor states could be eliminated. The GAO, however, stresses the importance of a unified federal surface transportation program, and cautions against the over-emphasis on the “donor-donee” issue.

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