The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) last week released their updated baseline budget projections for the ongoing fiscal year 2019, as well as the 10-year period of fiscal years 2020 through 2029. 

The new baseline estimates include the cost of keeping the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) solvent at baseline spending levels, according to a report by Jeff Davis, Eno Center for Transportation Senior Fellow and Editor of the Eno Transportation Weekly. 

The FY 2019 enacted levels, plus annual inflation increases of around 2 percent per year, has risen to about $176 billion, which is about $12 billion higher than the $164 billion that CBO projected in its January 2019 preliminary baseline.

The new baseline projects the highway account of the HTF will require $124 billion in additional revenues or bailout transfers (or spending cuts) to get to a zero balance at the end of the current fiscal year. A “cash cushion” also would have to be added to reflect the fact that year-end totals actually include a large mid-October retroactive transfer of excise taxes from the Treasury, Davis writes.  As such, ending September with a zero balance really means cash was actually depleted on a day-to-day basis sometime in the middle of that month.  This calls for a $4 billion cash cushion for the Highway Account and a $1 billion cushion. Click here to read the full report.

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