NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Calls for More Local Control of Transpo Funds
We normally leave the Bill de Blasio coverage to the Streetsblog NYC crew, but the new mayor made some remarks today at the U.S. Conference of Mayors that everyone should take note of.
At the conference’s plenary session, de Blasio made reference, without really naming it, to the single biggest demand of transportation reformers going into the negotiation for the next national bill: local control.
Bicycle advocates successfully fought for local control over some bike and pedestrian dollars precisely because they know that those dollars get lost in a highway vortex at the state level. State bureaucracies don’t think about the local projects that make a big difference in mobility and sustainability in cities and towns. But mayors sure do.
That’s why Transportation for America has rebranded itself as a coalition of local leaders, instead of national organizations. It’s found that it’s most effective when it brings mayors, MPO officials, and business leaders to Congress than when it brings a bunch of Beltway policy wonks. Lawmakers listen to them.
And so rather than rally behind a long menu of policy reforms, T4 is now putting its energy into just one: local control.
And that’s the song Bill de Blasio was singing today. He noted the importance of local control on a number of issues, and transportation was chief among them.
Let’s forge that new national urban consensus together – not just around priorities like pre-K and paid sick leave, but around strategic investments in affordable housing and 21st century transportation. Let’s work together to bring Congress back to the table so we can rebuild our public housing and revive our Section 8 programs for our seniors and vulnerable families. Let’s secure more dynamic funding for our roads and mass transit to give cities the flexibility to set their own priorities. I daresay – I think I’ll find agreement in the room – that we know what’s best for our own people.
De Blasio lamented that Congress has gotten in the way of President Obama’s efforts to “forge partnerships” between cities and the feds, and said he was “committed to partnering with other cities to make sure our voices are heard” on Capitol Hill.
The liberal de Blasio might not change many minds on Capitol Hill himself, but there are mayors of many different ideological stripes who can get behind the idea of local control for transportation funding, and it’s good to see that de Blasio wants to mobilize them.