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USE OF FUND TO OFFSET DEFICIT MAY BE DELAYING ROADWORK

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Because the federal government is using highway funds to offset the budget deficit, Utah's highway programs are a year behind schedule, according to a private, non-profit research agency.

The Utah Foundation, in a study released Monday, said the federal highway trust fund has a reserve of nearly $16 billion, despite expenditures of only $14 billion. The airport trust fund contains a surplus more than four times greater than expenditures.The federal government uses the surpluses to offset the annual federal deficit.

The funds comprise taxes imposed on people who use the nation's highways and airports, the foundation said. If the federal government decides to force states to increase their taxes to pay for highway and airport proj-ects, "highway users and air travelers may have grounds for protest of unfair taxation," a press release accompanying the study said.

Utah highway planners have a list of 27 highway projects that could be started quickly if funds were available, the statement said.