Pascrell Calls for Greater Transportation Funding
WASHINGTON - Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-8) issued the following statement regarding the Bush Administration's blueprint for the reauthorization of federal surface transportation program, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2003 (SAFETEA). The Administration proposal was defended by Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Subcommittee on Highways, Transit and Pipelines hearing today. Pascrell has been a member of the subcommittee since 1997.
"The President recently stated that the goal of his administration is to create an economy where 'every person who wants to work can find a job.' Then why not formulate a bill that stimulates job creation?
"As opposed to the reckless tax cuts, transportation and public works projects are actually a proven way to create jobs. Unfortunately, the bill the Bush Administration has given us simply does not contain adequate funding levels to get the job done.
"While we will see less funding for upkeep of our highways, most distressing for New Jersey is the laughable mass transit account. The Department of Transportation's own Conditions and Performance report states, 'The average annual cost to improve both the physical condition of transit assets and transit operational performance to targeted levels by 2020 is estimated to be $20.6 billion.' Yet, the Administration proposal only reaches a level of $8 billion in its last year.
"It only includes a 12% increase in public transit funding over six years, versus the 60% increase we saw in the 1998 authorization. The record transit ridership increases over the past six years in the Garden State - funded through TEA-21 - translated into fewer cars on the road, less pollution in our suburbs and increased economic development in our cities.
"Incredibly, the President's proposal also eliminates all discretionary funding for buses. Buses transport the vast majority of the nation's transit riders. The President's proposal leaves those riders waiting at the bus stop.
"We have waited months and months for this? We have serious needs and this proposal is grossly inadequate to meet the transportation needs of the nation. Mr. Mineta - the American people deserve a serious proposal."