Local officials rally House support for ISTEA.
With these words, city council member Greg Bielli of Scottsdale, Ariz., chair of NLC's Transportation and Communications Committee, kicked off a briefing session on the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) for 80 members and staff of the U.S. House of Representatives the end of April.
Reauthorization of ISTEA--landmark transportation legislation slated to expire on September 30--is one of NLC's top legislative priorities for 1997.
Joining Bielli in urging quick action on ISTEA reauthorization were representatives of other local government groups. including Mayor Christian Bollwage of Elizabeth, N.J. (representing the U.S. Conference of Mayors); Prince George's County councilmember Steve Del Guidice (representing the National Association of Regional Councils); Commissioner Karen Miller of Boone County, Mo. (representing the National Association of Counties); and Chris Boylan, Deputy Director of the New York Transit Authority (representing the American Public Transit Association.)
"ISTEA has empowered local elected officials to make decisions over federal transportation dollars as they already do over local funds," noted Bielli. "When Congress passed ISTEA in 1991, it recognised the role that local governments already played in transportation and why they need to be partners with federal and state governments. First, cities and counties raise and spend more money on transportation than the federal government or all of the state governments combined. Second, cities and counties own 80 percent of the nation's highways and streets, nearly all of the transit agencies, airports, and port facilities."
Bielli added, "Local elected officials know their roads, have more personal contact with the business and community leaders in their regions, and already have the commitment and skills to solve these problems. Local governments must continue to be a key partner in implementing the federal vision of transportation benefiting the economy in the best manner for their communities."
Many differing ISTEA reauthorization bills are circulating in Congress. The briefing session let House Members and staff know where local governments stand on ISTEA reauthorization.
TRANSPORTATION FINANCE BILLS Bill Number Description Effect on Municipalities H.R 4 Truth in Budgeting act Would increase Sponsored by Transportation available funds and Infrastructure for Transportation. Committee Chairman Bud guarantee that funds Shuster (R-PA). This bill will reach would remove the municipalities. If transportation trust funds not undertaken with from the unified deficit reduction federal budget measures, other discretionary programs will be cut. H.R. 255 Sponsored Surface Would increase Transportation available funds for Subcommittee Ranking Transportation. No Member Nick guarantee that funds Rahall (D-WV) to would will reach turn the 4.3 cents municipalities. If deficit reduction gas tax not undertaken with over to the Highway deficit reduction Trust Fund. measures, other discretionary programs will be cut. S. 436 Senator William Roth Jr. Would help (R-DE) has introduced municipalities that a bill to dedicate the have lost or do not revenue from a half cent have passenger rail of the 4.3 cents for service. Amtrak. S. 630 Introduced by Senators Would increase S. 634 Robert Byrd (D-WV) and available funds for Max Baucus (D-MT) that transportation. would turn the 4.3 cents Would help deficit reduction gas tax municipalities that over to the Highway Trust lost or do not have Fund and direct a half passenger rail cent of the 4.3 cents to service. a new Intercity Passenger Rail Account for Amtrak. S.404 Sponsored by Senator Would increase Kit Bond (R-MO) would transportation allow spending from the funding. No guarantee Highway Trust Fund's that funds will reach Highway Account to equal municipalities. the annual deposits into the Highway Account. H.R. 644 Sponsored by Rep. Steven Would increase LaTourette (R-OH) would transportation deposit the 4.3 cents funding. deficit reduction gas tax in the Highway Trust Fund, with 80% for the Highway Account and 20% for the Mass Transit Account. Bill Number NLC Position H.R 4 NLC supports taking the trust funds off-budget after the deficit is eliminated. H.R. 255 NLC supports taking the 4.3 cents from deficit reduction to the highway account only in conjunction with eliminating the deficit. S. 436 NLC supports taking the 4.3 cents from deficit reduction to the highway account only in conjunction with deficit reduction. NLC does not have policy on dedicated funding for Amtrak. S. 630 NLC supports taking the 4.3 S. 634 cents from deficit reduction to the highway account only in conjunction with eliminating the deficit. NLC does not have policy on dedicated funding for Amtrak. S.404 NLC supports transportation trust funds to be sent on transportation but this needs to be undertaken in conjunction with deficit reduction. H.R. 644 NLC supports taking the 4.3 cents from deficit reduction to the highway account only in conjunction with deficit reduction
* Expected that Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) will introduce a the transit authorization bill that would provide $6.5 billion for transit in FY 1998 and $34.4 billion over five years. It would expand the definition of capital expenses and deposit the 4.3 cents/gallon deficit reduction gas tax in the Highway Trust Fund with 2 cent for intercity passenger rail and 20% of the remaining 3.8 cents for the Mass Transit Account.
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|Title Annotation:||Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991|
|Publication:||Nation's Cities Weekly|
|Date:||May 5, 1997|
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