Rep. John Mica (R-Florida), chairman of the House Committee on Transportation, today released the outlines for a proposed multi-year federal transportation bill.
The good news: It contains some of the things needed to make America Fast Forward the law of the land. America Fast Forward would use a federal loan program and bond program to accelerate the building of transit projects — including our local Measure R projects (the Westside Subway Extension and others). This version of the bill has the loan program part of that equation and Mica has indicated he wants to add the bond part, but with help from another committee. (Here’s a Bloomberg News story on the bond program).
The bad news: The bill represents a serious cut in spending over the previous transportation bill signed into law by President Bush in 2005.
Of course, this is just one version of the bill — specifically the House Republican version. Democrats control the Senate and there remains a Democrat in the White House in the form of President Obama.
Here is the update to Metro staff from the agency’s government relations team:
Earlier today, the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, John Mica (R-FL) unveiled his blueprint for the surface transportation bill he would like adopted by his committee later this month.
The broad outlines of the plan are available on the committee’s website. The executive summary is that the bill would provide $230 billion in formula funding over a six year period. The bill includes aspects of our America Fast Forward initiative, in that it vastly expands the size of the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program [the proposal sets the funding level at $1 billion annually].
Chairman Mica also voiced measured support for a bond program for transportation projects [a key part of the America Fast Forward initiative]. Specifically, Chairman Mica shared that he will propose new types of infrastructure bonds to a tax-writing committee [House Committee on Ways and Means] later this year.
The size of the bill unveiled today contrasts with the $285 billion provided by the previous surface transportation bill adopted by Congress and signed into law by President Bush in 2005. When factoring in inflation, the Mica proposal represents a cut of approximately 33% in federal spending on highways and transit.
The Ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) reacted to the Mica proposal by remarking, “The bill is best described as the Republican road to ruin. It takes our nation in the wrong direction, backwards instead of forwards.”
Our chairman, Mayor Villaraigosa issued a statement following the unveiling of the surface transportation bill.
Our agency and our federal advocates will continue to remain constructively engaged with Chairman Mica and members of his committee to integrate our Board-approved legislative program in the final surface transportation bill that is considered by Congress and ultimately sent to the White House. We will also remain in close contact with Senator Boxer (D-CA), who is leading efforts in the U.S. Senate to adopt a multi-year surface transportation bill.