First, I would like to thank Chairman Gramm for holding this important hearing. As Chairman of the Housing and Transportation Subcommittee I have a particular interest in the issue of transit funding.
Transportation has become a critical issue in my state of Colorado, due to years of rapid growth. Large population increases have moved transportation to the top of the list of priorities. The timely funding of transit projects is critical for my state, and I am therefore concerned that 13(c) has unnecessarily delayed some mass transit projects.
I am also very concerned that the section 13(c) labor protection provision adds significant costs, both in opportunity costs and in direct costs for transit authorities.
Local transit authorities and state legislatures should have the ability to make the decisions that are in the best interests of their citizens. In Colorado the State Legislature passed legislation requiring the Denver Regional Transportation District to privately contract 35 percent of its services. I am disturbed that there is some indication from the testimony today that 13(c) may be used to obstruct the contracting decisions of states and localities.
Finally, I would like to make some comments on the role of Congress in the transit funding process. I believe that Congress has a clearly defined role in authorizing transit projects, appropriating money for projects, and performing oversight of the system. As Chairman of the authorizing subcommittee I take that role very seriously. I am very concerned that after the Congress has authorized and appropriated money for projects, and the FTA has approved a transit project, labor officials in Washington, DC can then change the scope of a project. I am hopeful that this hearing along with the GAO study that is underway will be an important step in examining section 13(c).
I thank the witnesses for appearing here today, and I look forward to their testimony.