WASHINGTON — Having already assigned a negative outlook to Garvees, Fitch Ratings said downgrades could occur for such bonds without a backup pledge of revenues if lawmakers don’t approve a longer-term reauthorization of highway and other surface transportation programs by March 31.

“Continued short-term extensions beyond March 31, 2012, without any progress on a longer-term program, which addresses the fundamental mismatch between [highway trust fund] receipts and outlays, could lead Fitch to lower its opinion of the strength of the federal program from strong to midrange,” the rating agency said in a 2012 outlook report on U.S. transportation infrastructure. “A change of opinion on the federal program would result in a downgrade of the ratings on Garvee bonds without a state backup pledge.”

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