House GOP Urges Elimination of (GOP-Backed) Kid Safety Program

House Republicans aren’t known for their well-reasoned spending proposals lately, but they took it to a new level today by sending President Obama a $375 billion budget-cutting plan that slices $1 billion from bicycle and pedestrian programs.

crosswalkphoto.jpgOne hopes that crossing guard in orange isn’t a House GOPer. (Photo: CA DOT)

The cuts have next to no chance of moving forward, given that Republicans are out of power in the White House and Congress. But they amount to the next step in the GOP’s political rebuilding process. Which begs the question: Does the party really want to stake its future on cutting Safe Routes to School?

The House GOP plan suggests that Obama save $183 million per year by eliminating federal participation in the program, which just last month was strongly endorsed for re-authorization by two Republican senators.

House Republicans argue that helping children walk or bike to school has "traditionally been viewed as" the task of local governments. Presumably, dedicated federal funding for kids’ safety amounts to creeping Big Government for the GOP — but dedicated federal funding for kids’ health care, now that’s just fine.

Other transportation proposals on the Republican chopping block today were the $25 million in bike and pedestrian funding given to four communities in the 2005 transportation bill and the U.S. DOT’s Transportation Enhancements initiative, which currently costs $833 million annually.

Margo Pedroso, deputy director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, was unruffled by the House GOP proposal (which took the form of a letter to Obama rather than a bill):

Given the
impact that Safe Routes to School initiatives can have on children’s physical
activity levels, traffic safety and congestion, air quality around schools, and
school budgets, we are confident that Safe Routes to School has bipartisan
support in Congress.

Late Update: Despite the House GOP’s proposal, Republican Sen. Richard Burr (NC) is not budging from his support for expanding the federal Safe Routes program. Burr said through a spokeswoman that

 

I would certainly be
disappointed in funding cuts for this program, as I am seeking to increase
funds within the Safe Routes to School Program Reauthorizations Act.  This
program is beneficial for all Americans because it promotes activity and helps
ensure children are able to get to school safely. In North Carolina, this
program builds safe routes across the state, and I’m confident the
program will do just as much good across the country.

  • Good gosh, even more shocking than the SR2S cuts, is the proposal to cut the ENTIRE Transportation enhancements program! I know they think that ‘no one bikes’ and ‘bikes aren’t transportation,’ but that’s a pretty big program with a lot of support.

  • Mark

    I’m all for encouraging Safe Routes to Schools, but really, isn’t it a local issue? It never made sense to me to collect taxes from each municipality and county and then return it — minus a good chunk for administration — for purely local needs (this goes far beyond Safe Routes). So I would support cutting this from the FEDERAL budget so long as they also reduce federal taxes proportionately and let localities use these funds themselves. Not likely to happen, I know.

  • Mark

    Let me add that this proposal does come down very hard on “non-motorized transportation.” They could save much more by cutting some unnecessary DOD programs and eliminating Medicare fraud.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “I’m all for encouraging Safe Routes to Schools, but really, isn’t it a local issue? It never made sense to me to collect taxes from each municipality and county and then return it — minus a good chunk for administration — for purely local needs.”

    I agree — as long as road spending is added to the list.

    Let’s get universal health care. People work and pay taxes elsewhere, then come to NYC for Medicaid-funded care when they are sick. People move. Infrastructure doesn’t. Take health care off the backs of state and local government, and we can pay for our own. That would help pay for universal health care in itself.

  • Wow, the GOP really is turning into the caricature “The Simpsons” make them out to be.

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