Civil rights group: Highway bill needs 'equity'

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 The Leadership Conference is concerned that the $230 billion, six-year proposal represents a 35 percent spending reduction with potentially significant impacts on public transportation, safer walking and bicycling access, road and bridge repair and maintenance, and adequate funding for civil rights protections, they continued. The overall effects of the spending reduction would leave us short of the necessary amount required to meet rising demand for transit service, especially in this time of severe fiscal constraints. Moreover, the severe reduction in critical transportation programs will disproportionately harm low-income people, people of color, seniors, and people with disabilities who rely heavily on affordable, accessible transportation options. 

Mica has argued that transportation spending needs to mirror what is brought in by the Highway Trust Fund, which provides the money for the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, or SAFETEA-LU, transportation bill. Mica says the Senate proposal to spend $104 billion over the next two years would result in the Highway Trust Fund being bankrupt by 2013.

But Henderson and Zirkin argued that spending more in transportation would create much-needed jobs in a time of high unemployment in the country.

Investing in our nation’s roads, bridges, tunnels, rail, transit, and better biking and walking infrastructure can create millions of jobs in these sectors, the duo wrote of the groups they said would be negatively affected by the House GOP’s proposal.

By contrast, under the House-approved budget plan, a total of 630,000 private sector highway and transit jobs will be lost in 2012, they continued. Proposed cuts will continue to negatively affect job access and creation in the transportation sector.