Transportation Trust Funds

AIMD-95-95R: Published: Mar 15, 1995. Publicly Released: Mar 15, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO commented on the budgetary treatment of transportation trust funds. GAO noted that: (1) although transportation trust funds have raised expectations created by the use of earmarked taxes, they could reduce the budget's effectiveness and limit Congress' ability to make trade-offs; (2) in response to this dilemma, some proposals advocate removing transportation trust funds from the budget and exempting them from statutory spending limitations; (3) the problems with the current unified budget are the use of trust fund surpluses to mask a general fund deficit and inadequate identification of investment spending; (4) removing transportation trust funds from the budget would reduce the usefulness of the budget for decision making purposes; (5) the Budget Enforcement Act was enacted to determine which discretionary accounts would be subject to spending limits, which has led some to advocate that transportation trust funds be exempted from the act; and (6) if transportation trust funds are exempt from the act's controls, spending and the deficit will likely increase over time.

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