Today, the White House announced its transportation priorities for the proposed FY2012 federal budget. Below is a statement by Transportation Equity Network (TEN) executive director Laura Barrett (laura@transportationequity.
We at TEN applaud the president’s FY2012 transportation budget proposal. At a time when every budget choice is a tough one, President Obama has recognized that investing in our national transportation system isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Transportation—especially public transit—is an engine for job growth, access to opportunity, and America’s long-term competitiveness. Our failure to fund it adequately has deepened our national economic crisis. It has left America behind as our competitors abroad make visionary investments in their own transportation futures. It has saddled future generations with an infrastructure deficit they will struggle for decades to fill—if we don’t act now. The president’s proposed budget offers a bold way to get America moving again.
The $50 billion first-year boost in funding recognizes that we have no time to waste if we want to seize the opportunity of historically low interest rates and catch up with our competitors abroad. The proposed six-year, $556 billion surface reauthorization plan would give us a long-overdue chance to reset our national transportation priorities to match our current needs and opportunities, rather than continuing the knee-jerk short-term extensions of the previous transportation bill, which expired more than 16 months ago. The fix-it-first approach to construction—making much-needed repairs before building new roads—makes sense both for public safety and for maximizing job creation.
When it comes to funding, the proposed national infrastructure bank provides a responsible way to leverage private and public funds together, while making sure that we the people get the biggest possible benefit from our contributions. What will be equally important will be ensuring that all major projects funded under the new transportation bill include community benefits agreements that ensure that low-income people, people of color, and women have a fair shot at the jobs created. TEN’s Green Construction Careers Model provides a proven way of doing so.
Now the key is for responsible members of Congress from both parties to step up in support of the president’s plan. Transportation has traditionally been an area of bipartisan cooperation and compromise, and it needs to be so now so we can seize the opportunity to build a more just, prosperous, and connected America.
TEN Media Director