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Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, 1956 to 2017

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The Congressional Budget Office has regularly published a report that documents trends in public spending for infrastructure. Here, CBO has updated the exhibits featured in that report through 2017.

There are six types of transportation and water infrastructure that are paid for largely by the public sector: highways, mass transit and rail, aviation, water transportation, water resources, and water utilities.

Federal, state, and local governments spent $441 billion on those types of infrastructure in 2017. That amount equaled about 2.3 percent of gross domestic product. The largest component of that total, $177 billion, went to highways, followed by water utilities and mass transit and rail.

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, 1956 to 2017

  1. 1. CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, 1956 to 2017 October 2018 This publication updates the exhibits in CBO’s report Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, 1956 to 2014 (March 2015), www.cbo.gov/publication/49910.
  2. 2. 1 CBO Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure
  3. 3. 2 CBO Source: Congressional Budget Office, using data from the Office of Management and Budget and the Bureau of the Census. a. Includes water supply and wastewater treatment facilities. b. Includes water containment systems (dams, levees, reservoirs, and watersheds) and sources of freshwater (lakes and rivers). Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, 2017 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 Water Transportation Billions of 2017 Dollars Water Utilitiesa ($113 billion) Water Resourcesb ($29 billion) Aviation ($37 billion) Water Transportation ($10 billion) Rail ($5 billion) Highways ($177 billion) Mass Transit ($70 billion)
  4. 4. 3 CBO Source: Congressional Budget Office, using data from the Office of Management and Budget, the Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. GDP = gross domestic product. a. Those price indexes for government spending measure the prices of materials and other inputs used to build, operate, and maintain transportation and water infrastructure. b. That price index measures the prices of goods and services that make up the nation’s GDP. Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure Under Alternative Adjustments for Inflation, 1956 to 2017 441 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 1956 1961 1966 1971 1976 1981 1986 1991 1996 2001 2006 2011 2016 Billions of 2017 Dollars Based on Infrastructure-Specific Price Indexesa Based on the GDP Price Indexb
  5. 5. 4 CBO Source: Congressional Budget Office, using data from the Office of Management and Budget, the Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. GDP = gross domestic product. Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure as a Share of GDP, 1956 to 2017 2.3 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 1956 1961 1966 1971 1976 1981 1986 1991 1996 2001 2006 2011 2016 Percentage of GDP
  6. 6. 5 CBO Source: Congressional Budget Office, using data from the Office of Management and Budget and the Census Bureau. The Federal Government’s and State and Local Governments’ Shares of Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, by Category of Spending, 2017 Federal Government: $72 Billion (41%) State and Local Governments: $102 Billion (59%) Capital ($174 Billion) Federal Government: $27 Billion (10%) State and Local Governments: $240 Billion (90%) Operation and Maintenance ($266 Billion)
  7. 7. 6 CBO Source: Congressional Budget Office, using data from the Office of Management and Budget, the Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. a. Dollar amounts are adjusted to remove the effects of inflation using price indexes for government spending that measure the prices of materials and other inputs used to build transportation and water infrastructure. b. Dollar amounts are adjusted to remove the effects of inflation using price indexes for government spending that measure the prices of goods and services consumed by governments, including materials and other inputs used to operate and maintain transportation and water infrastructure. Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, by Category of Spending, 1956 to 2017 174 266 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 1956 1961 1966 1971 1976 1981 1986 1991 1996 2001 2006 2011 2016 Billions of 2017 Dollars Capitala Operation and Maintenanceb
  8. 8. 7 CBO Source: Congressional Budget Office, using data from the Office of Management and Budget and the Census Bureau. Shares of Public Spending for Capital and for the Operation and Maintenance of Transportation and Water Infrastructure, by Level of Government, 2017 Capital: $102 Billion (30%) Operation and Maintenance: $240 Billion (70%) State and Local Governments ($342 Billion) Capital: $72 Billion (73%) Operation and Maintenance: $27 Billion (27%) Federal Government ($98 Billion)
  9. 9. 8 CBO Source: Congressional Budget Office, using data from the Office of Management and Budget, the Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Dollar amounts are adjusted to remove the effects of inflation using price indexes for government spending that measure the prices of materials and other inputs used to build, operate, and maintain transportation and water infrastructure. Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, by Level of Government, 1956 to 2017 342 98 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 1956 1961 1966 1971 1976 1981 1986 1991 1996 2001 2006 2011 2016 Billions of 2017 Dollars State and Local Governments Federal Government
  10. 10. 9 CBO Federal Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure
  11. 11. 10 CBO Source: Congressional Budget Office, using data from the Office of Management and Budget and the Census Bureau. Dollar amounts are adjusted to remove the effects of inflation using price indexes for government spending that measure the prices of materials and other inputs used to build, operate, and maintain transportation and water infrastructure. Federal Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, 1956 to 2017 98 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Billions of 2017 Dollars 2.5 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Percentage of Total Federal Spending
  12. 12. 11 CBO Source: Congressional Budget Office, using data from the Office of Management and Budget and the Census Bureau. a. Includes water containment systems (dams, levees, reservoirs, and watersheds) and sources of freshwater (lakes and rivers). b. Includes water supply and wastewater treatment facilities. Federal Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, by Type of Infrastructure, 1956 to 2017 Percent 0 25 50 75 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Highways 47 0 25 50 75 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Aviation 17 0 25 50 75 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Mass Transit and Rail 17 0 25 50 75 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Water Transportation 5 0 25 50 75 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Water Utilitiesb 4 0 25 50 75 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Water Resourcesa 10
  13. 13. 12 CBO Source: Congressional Budget Office, using data from the Office of Management and Budget, the Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. a. Dollar amounts are adjusted to remove the effects of inflation using price indexes for government spending that measure the prices of materials and other inputs used to build transportation and water infrastructure. b. Dollar amounts are adjusted to remove the effects of inflation using price indexes for government spending that measure the prices of goods and services consumed by governments, including materials and other inputs used to operate and maintain transportation and water infrastructure. Federal Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, by Category of Spending, 1956 to 2017 72 27 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 1956 1961 1966 1971 1976 1981 1986 1991 1996 2001 2006 2011 2016 Billions of 2017 Dollars Capitala Operation and Maintenanceb
  14. 14. 13 CBO State and Local Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure
  15. 15. 14 CBO Source: Congressional Budget Office, using data from the Office of Management and Budget and the Census Bureau. State and local spending is net of federal grants and loan subsidies. Dollar amounts are adjusted to remove the effects of inflation using price indexes for government spending that measure the prices of materials and other inputs used to build, operate, and maintain transportation and water infrastructure. State and Local Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, 1956 to 2017 342 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 1956 1961 1966 1971 1976 1981 1986 1991 1996 2001 2006 2011 2016 Billions of 2017 Dollars
  16. 16. 15 CBO Source: Congressional Budget Office, using data from the Office of Management and Budget and the Census Bureau. State and local spending is net of federal grants and loan subsidies. a. Includes water containment systems (dams, levees, reservoirs, and watersheds) and sources of freshwater (lakes and rivers). b. Includes water supply and wastewater treatment facilities. State and Local Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, by Type of Infrastructure, 1956 to 2017 Percent 0 25 50 75 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Highways 38 0 25 50 75 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Mass Transit and Rail 17 0 25 50 75 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Aviation 6 0 25 50 75 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Water Transportation 2 0 25 50 75 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Water Resourcesa 5 0 25 50 75 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Water Utilitiesb 32
  17. 17. 16 CBO Source: Congressional Budget Office, using data from the Office of Management and Budget, the Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. State and local spending is net of federal grants and loan subsidies. a. Dollar amounts are adjusted to remove the effects of inflation using price indexes for government spending that measure the prices of goods and services consumed by governments, including materials and other inputs used to operate and maintain transportation and water infrastructure. b. Dollar amounts are adjusted to remove the effects of inflation using price indexes for government spending that measure the prices of materials and other inputs used to build transportation and water infrastructure. State and Local Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, by Category of Spending, 1956 to 2017 102 240 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 1956 1961 1966 1971 1976 1981 1986 1991 1996 2001 2006 2011 2016 Billions of 2017 Dollars Operation and Maintenancea Capitalb
  18. 18. 17 CBO Source: Congressional Budget Office, using data from the Office of Management and Budget and the Census Bureau. Federal grants include the value of federal loan subsidies for the purchase of transportation and water infrastructure capital. Dollar amounts are adjusted to remove the effects of inflation using price indexes for government spending that measure the prices of materials and other inputs used to build, operate, and maintain transportation and water infrastructure. State and Local Capital Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, by Source of Funds, 1956 to 2017 38 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Percentage From Federal Grants Percent State and Local Revenues Federal Grants 0 50 100 150 200 250 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 By Source Billions of 2017 Dollars 64 102
  19. 19. 18 CBO Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, by Type of Infrastructure
  20. 20. 19 CBO Source: Congressional Budget Office, using data from the Office of Management and Budget, the Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. GDP = gross domestic product. a. Includes water containment systems (dams, levees, reservoirs, and watersheds) and sources of freshwater (lakes and rivers). b. Includes water supply and wastewater treatment facilities. Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure as a Share of GDP, by Type of Infrastructure, 1956 to 2017 Percentage of GDP 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Highways 0.9 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Mass Transit and Rail 0.4 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Water Resourcesa 0.2 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Aviation 0.2 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Water Transportation 0.1 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Water Utilitiesb 0.6
  21. 21. 20 CBO Source: Congressional Budget Office, using data from the Office of Management and Budget and the Census Bureau. a. Includes water supply and wastewater treatment facilities. b. Includes water containment systems (dams, levees, reservoirs, and watersheds) and sources of freshwater (lakes and rivers). Public Spending for Capital and for the Operation and Maintenance of Transportation and Water Infrastructure, by Type of Infrastructure, 2017 36% 28% 31% 34% 28% 53% 64% 72% 69% 66% 72% 47% 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180 200 Water Transportation Water Resources Aviation Mass Transit and Rail Water Utilities Highways Billions of Dollars a b Capital Operation and Maintenance
  22. 22. 21 CBO Source: Congressional Budget Office, using data from the Office of Management and Budget, the Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. a. Dollar amounts are adjusted to remove the effects of inflation using price indexes for government spending that measure the prices of materials and other inputs used to build transportation and water infrastructure. b. Dollar amounts are adjusted to remove the effects of inflation using price indexes for government spending that measure the prices of goods and services consumed by governments, including materials and other inputs used to operate and maintain transportation and water infrastructure. c. Includes water containment systems (dams, levees, reservoirs, and watersheds) and sources of freshwater (lakes and rivers). d. Includes water supply and wastewater treatment facilities. Public Spending for Capital and for the Operation and Maintenance of Transportation and Water Infrastructure, by Type of Infrastructure, 1956 to 2017 Billions of 2017 Dollars 0 50 100 150 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Highways Capitala Operation and Maintenanceb 94 83 0 50 100 150 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Mass Transit and Rail 49 26 0 50 100 150 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Aviation 26 11 0 50 100 150 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Water Transportation 7 4 0 50 100 150 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Water Resourcesc 21 8 0 50 100 150 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Water Utilitiesd 82 31
  23. 23. 22 CBO Source: Congressional Budget Office, using data from the Office of Management and Budget and the Census Bureau. a. Includes water supply and wastewater treatment facilities. b. Includes water containment systems (dams, levees, reservoirs, and watersheds) and sources of freshwater (lakes and rivers). The Federal Government’s and State and Local Governments’ Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, by Type of Infrastructure, 2017 44% 35% 45% 23% 4% 26% 56% 65% 55% 77% 96% 74% 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180 200 Water Transportation Water Resources Aviation Mass Transit and Rail Water Utilities Highways Billions of Dollars b a Federal State and Local Governments
  24. 24. 23 CBO Source: Congressional Budget Office, using data from the Office of Management and Budget, the Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Dollar amounts are adjusted to remove the effects of inflation using price indexes for government spending that measure the prices of materials and other inputs used to build, operate, and maintain transportation and water infrastructure. a. Includes water containment systems (dams, levees, reservoirs, and watersheds) and sources of freshwater (lakes and rivers). b. Includes water supply and wastewater treatment facilities. The Federal Government’s and State and Local Governments’ Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, by Type of Infrastructure, 1956 to 2017 Billions of 2017 Dollars 0 50 100 150 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Highways State and Local Governments Federal Government 131 46 0 50 100 150 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Mass Transit and Rail 17 58 0 50 100 150 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Aviation 17 20 0 50 100 150 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Water Transportation 4 6 0 50 100 150 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Water Resourcesa 10 19 0 50 100 150 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 Water Utilitiesb 4 109
  25. 25. 24 CBO The Congressional Budget Office updated this material using the methods that were described in an appendix to a 2010 report, modified by changes described in an appendix to a 2015 report. See Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure (November 2010), www.cbo.gov/publication/21902, and Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, 1956 to 2014 (March 2015), www.cbo.gov/publication/49910. Specifically, CBO obtained data about federal outlays from the Office of Management and Budget and about state and local governments’ outlays from the Census Bureau. CBO then converted those nominal (current-dollar) data into real (inflation-adjusted) data, using two sets of price indexes created by the Bureau of Economic Analysis that track government expenditures and investment. One set of indexes measures the prices of materials and other inputs used by state and local governments to build transportation and water infrastructure and was applied to nominal capital spending to convert it into constant dollars; the other set measures the prices of materials and other inputs used to operate and maintain that infrastructure and was applied to spending for operation and maintenance. How Did CBO Prepare This Update?
  26. 26. 25 CBO All years referred to are federal fiscal years, which run from October 1 to September 30 and are designated by the calendar year in which they end. Numbers in the figures may not add up to totals because of rounding. Detailed spending tables are available as a supplement to this publication at www.cbo.gov/publication/54539. Nathan Musick prepared this publication with contributions from Joseph Kile, Jeffrey Kling, Benjamin Plotinsky, Jorge Salazar, Chad Shirley, and David Wylie. Notes and Acknowledgments

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