Mica Transpo Bill Shrinks Spending 33%, Eliminates Bike-Ped Guarantee

House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica’s proposed transportation reauthorization bill includes $230 billion over six years, a reduction of 33 percent compared to spending levels in the last multi-year bill. The proposal, which he unveiled at a standing-room-only press event in the committee hearing room today, eliminates any federal guarantee (he calls it a “set-aside”) for bicycle and pedestrian programs, as part of his drive to consolidate the federal transportation bureaucracy. Transit will still get a 20 percent share of surface transportation dollars, compared to 80 percent for highways.

Rep. John Mica says the transportation sector will "do more with less." Photo: ##http://usa.streetsblog.org/2009/06/17/mica-new-federal-transpo-bill-should-have-the-need-for-speed/##Orlando Sentinel##

The bill still does not appear on the legislative agenda for the remainder of the time before the Congressional recess begins in August. Mica says he expects leadership to announce an extended session and shortened break. But even if it does, the extra time in session would probably be devoted to negotiating a deal on the debt ceiling and budget cuts – not passing a transportation bill.

A few weeks ago, Mica announced that this bill would be marked up July 12, but he’s now planning for a hearing on it July 12. It’s also unclear when bill text will be formally introduced. Some speculate that he won’t introduce the bill until it’s scheduled for a floor vote, since the longer it sits out there, the more it gets picked apart by critics.

To clear up a question I posed earlier, the bill calls for $35 billion of funding the first year with gradual increases until 2017, when $42 billion is allocated. The figures total $230 billion.

Mica claims that the $35 billion for the first year of spending in the bill magically becomes $75 billion when properly leveraged.

The bill calls for a major streamlining of the federal review process for new projects, shortening it from an average of 15 years to six. Rail Subcommittee Chair Bill Shuster said that some local officials say that federal projects cost up to 70 percent more than state and local projects because of the long review process. Mica says environmental interests won’t be compromised. All the same reviews will take place, just concurrently, not consecutively.

The bill would, as we said earlier, support state infrastructure banks, rather than create a national entity. That support consists of a new rule allowing states to used 15 percent of their federal highway funding for the bank (up from 10 percent) and a “specific amount” of funding. He does include $1 billion a year for TIFIA, as does the Senate bill. The Bipartisan Policy Center, on the other hand, has suggested a cap of $450 million since, in its review of outstanding TIFIA proposals, it found that only about that many projects were worthy of federal loan guarantees.

The bill doesn’t include the proposal to privatize the Northeast Corridor, which has been introduced as a separate piece of legislation (and which Mica admitted was vastly unpopular). It doesn’t include any money explicitly for high-speed rail either.

Mica said many times that he and his colleagues would go before the Ways and Means Committee to discuss revenues but he wasn’t specific about what he’d ask for. He allowed that it would include some bonding, but wouldn’t comment specifically on Build America Bonds, and he admitted that the gas tax is an inadequate revenue source but didn’t commit to supporting a VMT fee.

We’ll get you more details and reactions in a bit. The proposal outline, which was handed out to attendees at the press event, is still not online but we’ll link to it as soon as it is.

  • Brandi

    This bill should be titled “A Road to Ruin” not “A New Direction”. All
    this bill does is slash infrastructure spending and pass the bill onto
    to the states. Infrastructure is one of the most important pieces to a
    vibrant economy. This bill will only put us further behind Europe and
    China. Simply put this will devastate our competitiveness.  Another anti-job bill from the Repubs. 

  • Rebecca

    At the press conference Mica referred to an 80/20 split, and tha figure is often thrown about, but in fact the mass transit account receives 2.86 cents of the 18.4 cent gas tax and 2.86 cents from the 24.4 cent diesel taxes. That works out to just over 13% for transit, unless I’m missing something?

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Mica claims that the $35 billion for the first year of spending in the bill magically becomes $75 billion when properly leveraged.”

    Here in New York and New Jersey, they’ve been “properly leveraging” money for transportation for nearly 20 years.  As a result, virtually all the transportation money is going for debt service, leaving virtually none to maintain the system.

    Same generation, same policies… party now, leave a ruined country to those coming after.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Mica claims that the $35 billion for the first year of spending in the bill magically becomes $75 billion when properly leveraged.”

    Here in New York and New Jersey, they’ve been “properly leveraging” money for transportation for nearly 20 years.  As a result, virtually all the transportation money is going for debt service, leaving virtually none to maintain the system.

    Same generation, same policies… party now, leave a ruined country to those coming after.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Tanya, we’ve got the summary posted on our site, though i do hear it’s up on the T&I website now

    http://t4america.org/blog/2011/07/07/house-ti-committee-transportation-bill-summary-a-new-direction/

  • This is the same republican house that is trying to pass a $17 BILLION increase in the pentagon budget

  • Clutch J

    Maybe it’s time to wind down the federal transportation program that has done so much harm to our cities. Perhaps a back-to-basics, fix-what-we-have-first federal program is in order. We could do worse than to shift the onus of transportation planning and funding to states and (especially) metropolitan areas. I mean, does the transportation reform movement really want THIS Congress to write and pass a big transportation bill?

  • It will be interesting to see if the tea party faithful in the House actully follow through on cutting highway spending.  Believe it or not, Dubya proposed cutting highway spending as the highway trust fund was getting close to being depleted, but every time the republican controlled congress got the bill, they added highway funding back to previous levels. 

  • Hdelano

    When will this right-wing fascist end?  I know, when we start to actually get involved.  Go find a protest to march in.

  • True_US

    Cutting infrastructure and green speeding does not help our long-term
    goals. However, this proposal is unsustainable, furthermore it infringes on the
    satiety of progressing forward into the future. Amtrak must remain intact; passenger
    rail will have long-term economy of scale effects like that of our Asian competitors.
    Also, biking and walk peds are truly green and promotes health wellbeing. 

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Mica: “The Focus of the Bill Is on the National Highway System”

|
First, to recap: The transportation reauthorization proposal that House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica unveiled yesterday (sans legislative text) calls for $230 billion over six years, cutting 33 percent out of current spending levels. The plan maintains the current 80/20 split between highways and transit funding, supports state infrastructure banks in lieu of a national […]

Mica Won’t Say Where Transpo Funding Will Come From; LaHood Defends TE

|
House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica (R-FL) said this morning that getting permission from Republican leadership to find more revenues to fund the transportation bill was a “major breakthrough” but still won’t say where the money will come from. Mica told an audience at a Washington Post-sponsored forum on transportation that passing yet another extension […]

Boxer: Two-Year Transpo Bill Will Save 600,000 Jobs

|
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, says a transportation reauthorization bill needs to be passed soon in order to avoid the loss of 600,000 jobs in the construction and transit industries. She issued a call to action this morning, pushing for a new bill before the current extension of […]