Last week provided some hopeful signs that the Congress might actually be able to scratch and claw there way to a agreement before the currente extension expires at the end of the month.
First there was a exchange of actual proposals between House and Senate conference leaders. It began with Senator Barbara Boxer hand delivering to a compromise document to her House counterpart, Congressman John Mica and Congressman Mica returning the favor with some ideas from the House. That said there appear to be large differences between the two, especially when it comes to a dollar figure and funding mechanism.
Another bright spot was the House defeating by a significant margin, a non-binding motion, to instruct House transportation bill negotiators to insist on limiting funding to current revenues. The motion, which failed by a vote of 323-82, would have meant drastic cuts in transportation funding.
On the flip side are reports that one might take to mean members are willing to sacrifice long held principles just to get a deal done. For instance, there is word that TIGER grants and high-speed rail funds will be eliminated and there are still many House Repbublicans that would like to eliminate the Transportation Enhancement program.
This is why members are strongly encouraged to speak with their congressional representatives. They need to hear from you about the importance of transportation infrastructure and the positive impact it can have on the economy of both urban and rural areas of our state.
The League has written a letter to Congressmen Camp and Upton (members of the conference committee) as well as the entire Michigan delegation detailing the need for some certainty by enacting a longer term transportation funding bill that provides adequate funding, and programs that will give locals the ability to create vibrant places for economic growth. conference committee letter_may2012.pdf (576.62 kb)
Arnold Weinfeld is Director of Strategic Initiatives and Federal Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 or by e-mail.