Job-Killing Transportation Bill Offers Road to Nowhere
Bill Cuts Colorado Investments, Eliminates Guaranteed Mass Transit Support
With Congress slashing highway and mass transit funding for Colorado, Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) pressed for a bipartisan bill that would support infrastructure investments that create jobs. The House majority’s bill (H.R. 7) would cut highway funding for Colorado by $90 million over five years and eliminate future guaranteed federal funding for mass transit solutions. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the bill would actually bankrupt the Highway Trust Fund in 2016 and leave it with a $78 billion shortfall leading to even larger deficits and more debt.
“Democrats and Republicans in Congress should be working together to invest in our highways and mass transit systems in a fiscally responsible way that creates jobs while providing the infrastructure necessary for economic growth for years to come,” said Polis. “Rather than working cooperatively, the House majority brought forward a partisan bill that jeopardizes mass transit solutions that reduce congestion and pollution.”
In total, the highway title would cost 550,000 jobs with cuts in investments in federal-aid highways of $15.8 billion from current levels, reducing funding for all but 5 states over the life of the bill. For mass transit, the bill would eliminate guaranteed funding that currently comes from the gas tax (2.86 cents per gallon of the 18.3 cents per gallon total gas tax). After five years, there would be no dedicated long-term revenue stream for transit and transit would have to compete for funding under the annual appropriations process, putting funding at a high risk of termination. Republican leaders have signaled problems in finding enough support to pass the bill by postponing its consideration indefinitely.
Polis also offered an amendment to the highway bill yesterday afternoon that would have eliminated a controversial provision to open up two million acres of public lands to unproven oil shale development. On a bipartisan basis, Coloradans are opposing such leases as they would hurt the state’s agriculture and recreation economy by depleting limited water resources and allowing oil companies to lock away more public land at fire sale prices. Originally included to provide revenues to pay for the highway bill, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found the provision actually failed to raise any revenue, due to the fact that oil shale is not commercially viable. The amendment was rejected by a vote of 160 to 265.