ITD Director Pam Lowe outlined the department’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2008 and authorization for a second round of GARVEE (Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle) bonds during a presentation to the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee Thursday.
Eric Milstead, the Legislative Services liaison to the transportation department provided an overview of the budget, including a history of federal revenue and projections for the federal highway trust fund.
Transportation Board Chairman Darrell Manning returned to the budget-setting body to introduce Lowe as the department’s new director. He served in the Legislature from 1961 to 1972 and indicated that Thursday’s return was about his 40th JFAC appearance, half of which came as a representative of the transportation department.
Joined by division administrators and budget staff, Lowe gave a concise report on ITD’s budget request, explained the need for additional revenue as proposed by the transportation board, and discussed progress on the GARVEE program. ITD’s request for FY08 is $789 million, which includes $300.2 million in federal funds, $217.7 million in state funds and $6.9 million from other sources. It also includes a request for $264.2 million in GARVEE bonding authority.
Lowe’s report also provided an overview of escalating costs and the transportation board’s revenue package that would generate an estimated $203.1 million annually through a new highway preservation fuel tax, elimination of the ethanol exemption, increases in registration fees, the addition of car rental fees, increases in permit fees and fees for ITD services, and the introduction of impact fees based on the state’s rapid growth.
The budget presentation, which took about 45 minutes, was followed by an extensive question/answer period.
“I think the presentation went very well,” Lowe said. “We were asked some tough questions, but they were fair and appropriate questions. (JFAC members) are very interested in how we expend taxpayer dollars, and so are we.”
Lowe said she appreciated the dialogue and was impressed with the level of understanding JFAC members had of ITD’s budget. “They were very well informed and asked excellent questions. That shows how much importance they place on transportation issues.
“They were receptive to our budget report… We do the best we can to provide the information and answer their questions, and now the decision is up to them. We will make any decision work.”
Lowe said her first presentation to JFAC went smoothly because of the time and effort staff devoted to its development.
She credited board members, Manning and division administrators, along with input from Nestor Fernandez, Julie Pipal, Joel Drake, Dave Tolman, Dave Amick, and Doug Benzen, for preparing the concise, easily understood report. She also thanked Rik Hinton and Jeff Stratten for organizing and assisting with delivery of the report and expressed appreciation to the administrative staff, including those in the print shop, for their efforts.