Earlier this week, the Transportation for America coalition (of which RenewLV is a regional lead on) held a partner call to debrief coalition members on President Obama’s recently-unveiled transportation proposal and the next steps in pushing comprehensive transportation legislation.
Stephen Lee Davis outlines the main points of the White House plan on the T4A blog:
Included in the proposal is an infrastructure bank, a plan to rebuild 150,000 miles of roads, construct and maintain 4,000 miles of rail, and rehabilitate or reconstruct 150 miles of runway and install a new air traffic control system.
But perhaps most notably, the White House hits many of the same notes that T4 America has been sounding for the last two years in the official White House release, focusing especially on the need for a long-term transportation bill, with some serious reforms.
“The President’s initiative, as we understand it based on the broad outlines issued today, will give much-needed help to the economy while kick-starting the long-delayed transformation of the nation’s outdated surface transportation program,” said T4 America Director James Corless in an official statement.
On this week’s call, Corless stressed that the goal is to pass a robust transportation bill in the next 18 months — and the President’s recent announcement helped show that the Administration is behind making this goal happen. Given this window of opportunity provided by the White House, the T4A coalition will continue outreach and advocacy to pass a bill with full support for a balanced transportation network. We’ll keep you updated on any developments over the next couple of months.
Budget discussions are underway, both at the state and federal levels. In Pennsylvania, among other suggestions, Governor Rendell is proposing a lift on some sales-tax exemptions coupled with a plan for a lower sales tax (4%, rather than the current 6% rate). The Lehigh Valley’s leaders chimed in their thoughts on the Governor’s budget proposal in today’s Morning Call.
Nationally, Obama’s proposal includes a plan for a National Infrastructure Bank, that would support both national and regional projects. The New Republic reported on this plan, though with slight disappointment that the proposal only focuses on transportation proposals.
Other noteworthy aspects of the national budget: increased funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water Revolving Funds and more funding for high-speed rail projects. As Pennsylvania moves forward on plans for an integrated state rail plan, the hope remains that the Commonwealth will have several projects eligible for this funding.
Thoughts on these budgets?
RenewLV’s next brown-bag session will be held this Friday, January 22, 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. at the Victory Fire House, 205 Webster St, Bethlehem.
This brown-bag session will feature State Representative Robert Freeman providing a preview of what’s coming up in 2010 in Harrisburg, with regard to legislation on urban revitalization, smart growth, open space preservation, and related issues. Among other items, Rep. Freeman will touch upon these bills and topics:
- HB 1609: Traditional Neighborhood Development
- HB 1036: Comprehensive Planning
- HB 1390: Stormwater Management
- HB 42: Historic Preservation
- HB 102: Main Street Grants
I hope you’ll bring a lunch (perhaps from one of Bethlehem’s establishments) and join us on the 22nd. If you would like additional information, or have any questions about the event, feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 484-893-1062.