In-Depth: Where NYS highway and bridge spending goes
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says just 17 cents of each dollar in the Dedicated Highway and Bridge Trust Fund (DHBTF) actually goes toward new projects. The rest goes to pay debt and operating costs.
"New York is at a crossroads. Far too little of the money set aside to build or repair roads and bridges is being used for new capital projects by the state," DiNapoli said.
DHBTF spending in SFY 2020-21 totaled $3.46 billion. Of this total, just 17.2% was used for capital construction, while state operations and debt service costs consumed 43% and 40%, respectively.
"It is time for New York to change direction and use the money in the Dedicated Highway and Bridge Trust Fund for critical repairs and to increase pay-as-you-go projects as the fund was created to do," DiNapoli said. "Our state’s financial position has improved, and we are expecting billions of dollars from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. We cannot afford to squander this historic opportunity. Policymakers need to act now to shore up the trust fund."
The 1991 law that created the DHBTF was narrowly focused to ensure a dedicated funding stream would be available to alleviate the need to borrow funds for transportation capital projects. DiNapoli said over the years, the scope of eligible expenditures was expanded so the trust fund no longer serves its original purpose of directly paying for road and bridge projects.
DiNapoli recommended the state:
- Maximize the share of trust fund revenue used for new capital projects by developing a multi-year plan to reduce state operations and debt service costs paid for by the DHBTF;
- Increase the share of transportation capital projects funded on a pay-as-you-go basis to reduce debt service costs; and
- Reduce the trust fund’s reliance on annual General Fund transfers and consider augmenting the fund’s dedicated revenue streams.
The full report is below: