In a last minute budget food fight that dredged up even some residual acrimony from last winter’s impeachment trial, Congress and President Clinton finally resolved the rest of Fiscal Year 2000 budget. Even for transit and other agencies that have already seen their budgets enacted, the bill includes a 0.38% across the board spending cut. For federal transit aid that would mean a cut of about $22 million. However, each agency head, including the Secretary of Transportation, has discretion on how to administer the cut, and the highway/transit reductions would be restored in FY2001 anyway.
Nearly two months late, the omnibus spending measure cuts the House approved a $390 billion budget bill. The 2,000-plus-page package merged 10 appropriations bills and was the product of weeks of negotiation. Senate approval was expected by the weekend.
Even though the cuts amount to a ledger exercise between the current and next year, Congress actually increased FY 2000 spending on transit. The omnibus measure included an extra $1.75 million for new buses and bus facilities for Minneapolis-St. Paul; $2.5 million to help Anchorage, Alaska, prepare for the 2001 Special Olympics (some of which could include more transit); and $60 million to convert New York City’s Farley Post Office into a train station and shopping center.