Lipinski Applauds House GOP's Decision to Reverse Course and Maintain Dedicated Funding for Public Transportation (February 23, 2012)
Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL) issued the following statement today:
“Published reports now indicate that House Republican leaders have decided to abandon their plan to end the dedicated use of motor fuel taxes for mass transit in the House transportation reauthorization bill. This is a victory for everyone who rides the CTA, Metra, and Pace, as well as for drivers. Having helped to lead the bipartisan effort to force Republican leaders to maintain dedicated funding for mass transit, I’m very pleased by this decision. Ending dedicated funding would have put $450 million for local public transportation at risk at a time when the CTA, Metra, and Pace are already short of revenue and have major infrastructure needs. That’s money that keeps trains and buses running on time and helps to keep cars off our overcrowded roads.
“Undoubtedly, this is a victory and a step in the right direction. But there is more that needs to be done to improve the House transportation bill, and details on the new House proposal are still sketchy. House Republicans now seem to want to pass a shorter bill. I would like the bill to be as long as possible to facilitate long term planning, but I have said that we are better off with a shorter bill if that would mean a higher level of funding per year. The proposed bill cuts funding to Illinois by $130 to $174 million per year; that is unacceptable and I will continue to fight for adequate funding. As I have said, a shorter but still multi-year bill is the easiest way to get there. I also continue to work to restore the Projects of National Significance program, which could provide funding for the CREATE rail modernization project and other major projects in Illinois.
“The news today is very encouraging and I will continue to press the Republicans to make this a robust, bipartisan transportation reauthorization bill that is good for our region and good for our country. The American people don’t want partisan bickering and games, they want action that reduces costly congestion and delays for individuals and businesses and helps promote job growth in the short term and the long term. I remain ready to work with my colleagues across the aisle to achieve that goal.”
Under a bipartisan agreement that dates back 30 years to President Reagan, a portion of motor fuel taxes has been dedicated to pay for investments in public transportation. Currently, 2.86 cents of the gas tax is set aside for mass transit. The House Republican bill would have directed that funding to highways, leaving transit with no guaranteed revenue source.