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Federal Transportation Bill

Mica’s Transportation Proposal: Responses Flood In

3:56 PM EDT on July 7, 2011

The GOP transportation bill proposal is now online.

Here are some early reactions.

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), chair of the Senate Banking subcommittee with jurisdiction over public transportation: “It used to be that Republicans understood that transportation investment was necessary to spur economic growth and create jobs. Now, I guess they think if we give the rich enough tax breaks they will get off the golf course, get in a bulldozer, and start building roads.”

Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), chair of the full Senate Banking Committee: “Transit systems are one of the most efficient and reliable forms of transportation… Proposals to cut public transportation funding, as contemplated in the House, won’t just make it harder for Americans to get to a job interview or the grocery store; cuts will also slow job growth at a time when we need it most. Construction workers, mechanics, employees of bus manufacturers and rail car suppliers, and many other hard-working Americans will lose their jobs if these cuts occur.”

Caron Whitaker, campaign director of America Bikes: “The Mica bill is short-sighted; it focuses on cuts rather than return on investment. The bicycling industry supports over a million jobs and brings in over $17 billion in federal, state, and local taxes. That’s a great return for the $700 million federal investment in biking and walking facilities.”

James Corless, director of Transportation for America: “Chairman Mica’s proposal to give states broader latitude needs strong provisions for accountability on national goals, such as economic prosperity, energy independence, equal access to opportunity and environmental stewardship. However, this emphasis on the state level cannot come at the expense of the places that are feeling the brunt of our inadequate investments to this point: local communities in both urban and rural locales. We are particularly concerned at the proposal to eliminate dedicated funding that helps provide more safe options for walking and biking. While Chairman Mica indicated an intent to preserve the historic share of 20 percent for transit, the overall effect is a devastating cut that leaves us well short of the amounted required to meet rising demand for transit service, especially in this time of severe fiscal constraints.”

Deron Lovaas, federal transportation policy director of the Natural Resources Defense Council: "Rep. Mica’s bill would take the next exit ramp off the superhighway to a smarter, 21st century transportation system. This is no time to slam the foot of Big Government on the brakes. Instead, we need to go full speed ahead with targeted investments that prepare us for the rest of this century, and beyond.’’

Marcia Hale, president of Building America’s Future: “We appreciate many of the proposed policy reforms that were announced today but we are disappointed by the funding level. We applaud the fact that Chairman Mica recognizes states and cities want certainty when it comes to long-term transportation funding but this proposal shows a significant cut from current funding levels.”

John Horsley, executive director of AASHTO: "Chairman Mica's bill is the first step in the process to pass a new long-term surface transportation bill that is desperately needed to maintain our national transportation system. This proposed legislation features many reforms that state departments of transportation support including: consolidation of federal transportation programs resulting in greater focus on our core mission; strategies that will accelerate project delivery so states can deliver critical transportation projects faster; tools to leverage transportation funds so states can generate more value from public infrastructure investments; and distribution of nearly all federal highway funding by formula to state DOTs. States will work with Congress to assure that each state receives an equitable share of funding."

Transportation Committee Democrats pulled no punches at a press conference they held immediately after Mica's rollout event. We'll bring you more on what the Democrats said in just a bit.

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