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Tribal Transportation Funding
WASHINGTON The US Senate approved its $109 billion surface transportation bill, S 1813, also known as MAP-21 Wednesday by a 74-22 vote. Current transportation funding authority for programs under the Highway Trust Fund expires March 31. Congress must either pass a new long-term measure or approve another short-term extension.
The legislation makes changes to the Tribal Transportation Program funding distribution formula. Originally, the distribution formula held 20 percent of available funds based on the total lane miles of tribal and BIA owned roads, 40 percent of tribal population, and an additional 40 percent distributed based on the individual population ranges for each tribe. This made population 80 percent of the funding base, which the Navajo Nation has maintained is not a true measure of transportation need.
The newly revised formula distribution will be determined by 30 percent lane miles, 35 percent population, and 35 percent regional distribution. The final funding impact of this proposed formula on the Navajo Nation's federal transportation funding is currently being assessed. While the new funding formula represents a potential loss of funding for Navajo Transportation Programs as a whole, the final formula is a significant improvement over the formula included in the original legislation.
Senate Amendment 1576 to the bill, the Indian School Bus Route Safety Reauthorization Act, did not pass. The amendment would have provided transportation and road improvement initiatives to help children from the Navajo Nation safely get to school, by authorizing funding for maintenance and improvement of school bus routes in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
The House must now pass a companion bill. If a House bill is unable to gain support, the House will take up the Senate's version of the bill after House members return from recess on March 26.
posted March 15, 2012 6:00 am edt
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