Linda Bailey, Executive Director of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) issued the following statement in response to the White House’s 2018 budget blueprint.
President Trump’s proposed budget would be a disaster for cities and their transportation systems, gutting three of the most valuable Federal programs for cities across the country.
The White House has proposed to stop funding transit projects through the New Starts and Small Starts program (Capital Investment Grants), which matches over $2 billion in local funding for rail, streetcar, and bus rapid transit projects every year. The budget also envisions eliminating TIGER, an extremely popular program that funds innovative projects with proven benefits in communities in all 50 states. TIGER is already underfunded: just 5% of eligible projects were funded last year. Finally, the proposed elimination of subsidies to Amtrak services, which had record ridership last year, would leave communities around the country without viable national rail connections at a time when we need more connections between our communities, not fewer.
The cuts to the Department of Transportation, while hitting critical programs, do not ultimately add up to even half of the touted $2.4 billion, 13 percent reduction. As the overall proposed budget for this agency is already lean, it is concerning that other anticipated cuts were not specified in the summary.
In addition, the White House budget eliminates the Department for Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grants program completely, a crucial, flexible source of funding that has improved communities around the country for 42 years. Last year alone, the program created 17,545 jobs.
President Trump has promised to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure with a widely-touted “$1 trillion infrastructure plan,” but it is impossible to square his words with his budget proposal.
Our communities clearly have a different position on investing in their future. On November 8th, 2016, Americans around the country showed up to ratify a host of ballot measures approving new taxes for public transit, public spaces, safety, multimodal streets, and increased affordable housing. These new projects will enhance mobility while reducing the impacts of climate change. We urge cities, Congress, and citizens to stand up for a Federal program that continues to support safe, sustainable, accessible, and equitable transportation choices.
That is a transportation future we can get behind.