Amazingly, Democrats and Republicans are joining forces this week to oppose a terrible Republican transportation funding bills that seriously imperils federal money for CTA expansion and repair projects.
U.S. Reps. Dan Lipinski, a conservative Chicago Democrat, and Bob Dold, a North Shore Republican,got together today to urge the GOP to return to the 30-year-old funding formula for splitting revenue from the gas tax – 80% for road projects and 20% for transit. Bully for them.
The House Ways and Means Committee voted earlier this month to end that automatic funding for transit agencies.
Here’s an excerpt from a New York Times editorial titled “A Terrible Transportation Bill.:
The list of outrages coming out of the House is long, but the way the Republicans are trying to hijack the $260 billion transportation bill defies belief. This billis so uniquely terrible that it might not command a majority when it comes to a floor vote, possibly next week, despite Speaker John Boehner’s imprimatur. But betting on rationality with this crew is always a long shot.
Here is a brief and by no means exhaustive list of the bill’s many defects:
¶It would make financing for mass transit much less certain, and more vulnerable, by ending a 30-year agreement that guaranteed mass transit a one-fifth share of the fuel taxes and other user fees in the highway trust fund. Instead it would compete annually with other programs.
¶It would open nearly all of America’s coastal waters to oil and gas drilling, including environmentally fragile areas that have long been off limits. The ostensible purpose is to raise revenue to help make up what has become an annual shortfall for transportation financing. But it is really just one more attempt to promote the Republicans’ drill-now-drill-everywhere agenda and the interests of their industry patrons.
¶It would demolish significant environmental protections by imposing arbitrary deadlines on legally mandated environmental reviews of proposed road and highway projects, and by ceding to state highway agencies the authority to decide whether such reviews should occur.
Of course, this bill is going nowhere in the U.S. Senate. But let’s hope GOP House members kill it before it gets there and goes back to the current funding formula.