July 7, 2011
WASHINGTON – Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD), Housing, Transportation and Community Development Subcommittee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Vice Chair of the Democratic Conference Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) today issued a Banking Committee analysis showing that the House Surface Transportation proposal released this morning would cost more than 140,000 jobs as a result of cuts to transit funding.
Earlier this morning, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) proposed linking funding for highway and public transportation programs to the declining revenue being deposited in the Highway Trust Fund. According to current revenue estimates by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, this level of funding would reduce federal investment in public transportation programs by at least 37 percent. Both the Mica proposal and the Republican Ryan budget passed by the House earlier this year endorse these cuts. The Ryan budget goes even further by calling for the elimination of a smaller general fund program which supports the construction of new transit lines like the extension of Metrorail to Dulles Airport, new light rail lines in Salt Lake City and Dallas and other critical projects under the New Starts program.
“Transit systems are one of the most efficient and reliable forms of transportation,” said Chairman Johnson. “They provide millions of commuters a safe ride to and from work or the pharmacy, and they create and sustain hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs. They are also a vital link in rural communities where the federal program is essential to transit operations. Congress needs to pass a surface transportation bill that strengthens investment in infrastructure. Proposals to cut public transportation funding, as contemplated in the House, won’t just make it harder for Americans to get to a job interview or the grocery store; cuts will also slow job growth at a time when we need it most. Construction workers, mechanics, employees of bus manufacturers and rail car suppliers, and many other hard-working Americans will lose their jobs if these cuts occur.”
The Economic Impact of Public Transportation Investment report produced by the Economic Development Research Group, Inc. and Cambridge Systematics, Inc. found that 30,000 jobs are supported or created for every $1 billion of federal investment in public transportation. After adding state and local matching funds that number jumps to 37,500 jobs per $1 billion. Based on these findings the 37 percent cut in funding proposed by Chairman Mica would result in more than 141,000 jobs lost.
“It is astounding that the House claims to want to help the economy, but instead is endorsing a policy that will cost us 140,000 transit-related jobs,” said Senator Menendez. “This policy would be devastating to our economy, create snarling traffic jams, make us more dependent on oil, and leave public transportation-dependent communities stranded. It used to be a bipartisan belief that infrastructure investment was necessary to promote economic growth and competitiveness, but now it seems some are more committed to their rigid ideology than they are to turning our economy around.”
Senator Schumer added, “This is a job-killing, future-suffocating, pessimistic vision of America as a ‘can’t do’ nation that would be a body blow to our struggling economy.”
State and local governments have been hit hard by the downturn in the economy and public transportation systems nationwide are experiencing major budget cuts as a result. The American Public Transportation Association reports that since January 2009, 84 percent of public transit systems have either raised fares, cut service or are considering those options.
Service cuts often disproportionately affect people with low-incomes, minorities, and seniors. In many cases people are cut off from accessing their jobs or health care providers. Additionally, fare increases can have a devastating effect on working families and those on fixed incomes.
The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee is responsible for oversight of our nation’s public transportation systems.
To view a state-by-state breakdown of the Banking Committee's analysis, please click here