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Transport Fix to Jobs Bill Would Take $192M From CA, Send $76M to TX

oberstar.jpgHouse transport panel chairman Jim Oberstar's (D-MN) state would lose an estimated $9.5 million under the fix. (Photo: Jonathan Maus)

Fixing a disputed provision in the jobs bill that President Obama signed into law yesterday -- as Senate Democratic leaders promised House transportation committee chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) following complaints by several members of his panel -- would involve the redistribution of $932 million in funding for two major federal road and rail programs.

The end result of the transfers would leave California with $192 million less than it had in the Senate-passed version of the jobs measure, while Texas would gain the most with an influx of more than $76 million, according to data released by Oberstar's committee earlier this week.

The $932 million in grants became an issue last month after the jobs bill, which extends the 2005 transportation law until 2011, cleared the Senate with language that also extended 2009-level earmarks for the two programs, known as Projects of Regional and National Significance (PRNS) and the National Corridor Infrastructure Improvement (NCIIP).

That extension of previous earmarks would result in 58 percent of the $932 million going to four states: Illinois, Louisiana, California, and Washington. After lawmakers from other states raised alarms about the distribution, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) vowed to Oberstar [PDF] that if the House would approve the jobs bill without changing the provision, the Senate would move as quickly as possible on a fix.

"Although my preference
would be to amend this [jobs bill] to reflect these compromises today,
any further delays in enacting a surface transportation extension are
unacceptable," Oberstar said two weeks ago, urging colleagues to take the upper chamber at its word.

The House passed legislation earlier this week that would redirect the $932 million to all 50 states based on existing road-funding formulas. It is that shift that would take PRNS and NCIIP money from California, Illinois ($119 million), Louisiana ($43 million), and Washington ($39 million), as well as Oregon ($29 million) and Virginia ($12 million).

States that would gain under the fix include Texas, Ohio ($25 million), Florida ($47 million), Georgia ($31 million), and New York ($16 million). It remains unclear when the Senate will act on the change.

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