We have received a summary of a soon-to-be-introduced bill – the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act. Among other provisions, the bill would dedicate $19 billion, over five years, in Local Aid. And, it would enact reforms to enhance State-Local coordination in order to ‘improve the flow of funds’ to local units of all sizes. Also included in the proposal is $250 million for complete streets.
The total package would authorize $1.5 trillion over five years – an average of $300 billion a year, with some of the funding front-loaded in the Federal government's upcoming (FY 2021) Fiscal Year. That would make available to states, municipalities, tribal governments, U.S. territories, and transit agencies $83.1 billion in FY ’21 for COVID Response and Recovery. An additional $22 billion would be made available, beginning on October 1, in capital support to compensate for lost revenues.
The bill will also include other funding streams for transit systems, and a Transforming Rail by Accelerating Investment Nationwide (TRAIN) component, supporting passenger rail improvements with $19 billion, over five years, plus $29.3 billion over five years for Amtrak, of which $13.1 billion would be earmarked for the North East Corridor.
Back in February, League President Jim Perry was invited by the National League of Cities (NLC), our federal partner, to travel to Washington to participate in a Congressional lobby day. The main issue to be addressed was Federal support for investments in America’s infrastructure. And the chief concern was the fact that the FAST Act – the current authorization for federal surface transportation spending – would sunset on September 30, at the end of the current Federal Fiscal Year.
In addition to a series of meetings with staff of Senators Menendez and Booker and several New Jersey Members of Congress, President Perry joined colleagues from all around the Nation at an NLC hosted reception in the Capitol. The local leaders were joined by House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman, Congressman Peter DeFazio of Oregon, who outlined his infrastructure priorities. President Perry seized the opportunity to speak with Chairman DeFazio, one-on-one. We thank our League President for his advocacy.
We will need to be on guard against private interests who will see a new Infrastructure bill as a chance to advance their agendas. The summary stresses trucking safety. However, for years, the interstate trucking industry has been lobbying Congress for relaxation on truck size and weight limits. And for years, NLC and the New Jersey League have been lobbying against any relaxation of those limits. Public safety and the resilience of local roads would be compromised by the presence of longer, heavier trucks.
A few weeks ago, League Executive Director, Michael Darcy, wrote to Congressmen Albio Sires, Donald Payne, and Tom Malinowski – all members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee – and to Congressman Bill Pascrell, who sits on Ways and Means, warning against efforts by the trucking industry to advance their self-interests in any infrastructure proposals. We have relied on their support in the past, and expect nothing less going forward.
We will keep you posted, as the legislation progresses. And we will need your advocacy with your House Member on this.
Contact: Jon Moran, Senior Legislative Analyst, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-695-3481 x121.