Gov. Rounds works for federal transportation funding

Gov. Rounds works for federal transportation funding Gov. Mike Rounds has been working with the South Dakota Congressional Office to ensure that South Dakota's voice is heard regarding federal highway funding.

In a letter dated March 19, 2004, to Rep. Ernest J. Istook Chairman, House Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury and Related Agencies, Rounds asked that critically needed transportation projects for South Dakota be favorably considered for inclusion in the final version of the federal fiscal year 2005 transportation appropriations bill.

"Maintaining quality roads and bridges is vital to the success of the 2010 Initiative," said Gov. Rounds.

Federal highway funding comes to the states through the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which is financed by federal fuel taxes of 18.4 cents per gallon.

The money comes to South Dakota in three ways. The first is congressional "earmark" or special projects requested by senators and Congressmen. The second is regional and national projects. The third is funding distributed by a formula based upon the number of miles of highways and the number of miles driven in each state.

Currently, about four percent of the total funding comes through special projects, 12 percent comes through regional and national projects, and 84 percent comes through the formula.

Recently, the Senate and the House passed different versions of a six-year transportation bill. The House version of the bill would allocate about $1.3 billion of formula funding to South Dakota over six years � about an 8 percent increase over the six-year bill passed in 1998. The initial version of that bill did not, however, contain any special projects for the state. The two bills are now headed to conference committee.

"Before Congress completes its work on overall transportation funding for fiscal year 2005," said Rounds, "I am confident that South Dakota will receive both an increase in formula funding and some special project funding. It's a fairness issue, and in the end, Congress will be fair to our state."

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