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APTA: 'Devastating Cuts' in FY 2018 Budget; Resolution Would Phase Out CIG, Eliminate TIGER

APTA has issued a statement objecting to “devastating cuts” in key public transportation programs—including phasing out Capital Investment Grants (CIG) and eliminating the TIGER grant program—in the FY 2018 Budget Resolution released July 18 by the House Budget Committee.

“Public transportation infrastructure programs serve national interests and have strong bipartisan support,” said APTA Acting President & CEO Richard White. “The budget resolution proposes devastating cuts at a time when the federal government should be investing more, not less, in the nation’s transit and rail infrastructure.” He called the proposal “puzzling” because Congress recently rejected the CIG cuts twice.

In the first instance, Congress rejected CIG cuts, which were proposed by the Trump administration, when it fully funded the program at the level authorized under the FAST Act in the FY 2017 omnibus appropriation. In the second instance, the House Appropriations Committee pre-emptively rejected the proposal in the FY 2018 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies appropriations bill it approved July 17, although it accepted a $549 million funding cut. (See below.)

Budget resolutions, if adopted by both the House and Senate, set top-line funding levels for the appropriations committees and outline legislative goals for the year. Even if the resolutions are approved, directives to phase out the CIG program would require subsequent congressional action.

Citing an analysis by APTA and the Economic Development Research Group, White said, “The proposal to halt the robust pipeline of these worthy and vetted projects would put 800,000 jobs at risk, including 502,000 construction and related jobs and an additional 300,000 longer term jobs associated with economic productivity, and would result in a possible loss of $90 billion in economic output.”

In 2015, both houses of Congress overwhelmingly supported passage of the FAST Act, which authorizes $2.3 billion annually, through 2020, for the CIG program. APTA emphasized that eliminating this program in the middle of the authorization period would pull the rug out from under communities that have spent local, state and federal resources advancing their projects through the CIG process with the expectation that Congress would fulfill its financial commitment.

Following consideration by the budget committee, the full House may take up the budget resolution at the end of July. Read the APTA statement here.

Other transit-related federal funding news follows.

House Appropriations Committee

The full House Appropriations Committee voted 31-20 on July 17 to approve the FY 2018 transportation funding bill. It is unclear when the bill will go to the House floor or whether it would go to the House as a stand-alone bill or as part of an omnibus appropriations measure.

Like the bill approved by the THUD subcommittee, the measure provides a total of $11.752 billion in FY 2018 for public transportation programs administered by the FTA. It fully funds FAST Act formula programs from the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund at $9.733 billion and provides $150 million for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority under a separate authorization.

The bill funds the CIG general fund program at $1.753 billion, $549 million below the amount authorized under the FAST Act. APTA expressed concern in a statement and letters to subcommittee leaders regarding the fact that the CIG program was funded below the authorized level.

Under the CIG program, the bill sets specific funding levels for new starts, small starts and core capacity projects and provides $400 million for a joint public transportation and intercity passenger rail project intended for the Gateway Project. Separately, under FRA Federal State Partnerships for State of Good Repair Grants, the bill provides another $500 million, also intended for the Gateway Project.

While multiple amendments were offered during the markup, the committee approved only one, which reallocated $3 million from the office of the DOT secretary to the Saint Lawrence Seaway.

The committee rejected an amendment offered by THUD Subcommittee Ranking Member David Price (D-NC) that would have added $200 billion to infrastructure spending in FY 2018. The amendment included no offsetting cuts.

FY 2018 DHS Appropriations Bill

On July 18, the full House Appropriations Committee marked up the funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security with $90 million for the Transit Security Grant Program, up $2 million from FY 2017.

Additionally, Urban Area Security Initiative grants were funded at a level of $630 million, up $25 million from enacted levels for FY 2017. If there are any changes in the base bill from the markup, APTA will issue a Legislative Alert, which will be posted here.
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