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Local officials rally House support for ISTEA.

"We support ISTEA reauthorization. ISTEA has generated positive outcomes in the national transportation system; it has created a partnership between federal, state, and local governments; it recognizes that a successful national transportation system is intermodal; and it encourages transportation options to move goods and people as efficiently as possible."

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.

Bill Number Description Effect on

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
 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
 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.

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
 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

* 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
Author:Saroff, Laurie
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:May 5, 1997
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