President Trump’s first budget request for Congress is a direct assault on smart infrastructure investment that will do damage to cities and towns of all sizes — from the biggest coastal cities down to small rural towns.
After months of promises to invest a trillion dollars in infrastructure, the first official action taken by the Trump administration on the issue is a proposal to eliminate the popular TIGER competitive grant program, cut the funding that helps cities of all sizes build new transit lines, and terminate funding for the long-distance passenger rail lines that rural areas depend on.
The competitive TIGER grant program is one of the only ways that local communities of all sizes can directly access federal funds. And unlike the old outdated practice of earmarking, to win this funding, project sponsors have to bring significant local funding to the table and provide evidence of how their project will accomplish numerous goals. The TIGER grant program has brought more than three non-federal dollars to the table for each federal dollar awarded.
Eliminating the funding to support the construction of new public transportation lines and service is a slap in face of the millions of local residents who have raised their own taxes to pay their share. Like the voters in Tempe, AZ, who approved a sales tax 13 years ago that’s been set aside to pair with a future federal grant to build a streetcar. Or the voters last November in Indianapolis, IN, who approved an income tax increase to pay their share of a new bus rapid transit project, and in Atlanta, GA, who approved a sales tax increase in part to add transit to their one-of-a-kind Beltline project.
These local communities and scores of others who are generating their own funds to invest in transit will be left high and dry by this proposal, threatening their ability to satisfy the booming demand from residents and employers alike for well-connected locations served by transit.
Terminating funding for long-distance passenger rail service will hit rural communities especially hard, like the communities along the Gulf Coast who are even now demonstrating their commitment to restoring service wiped out by Hurricane Katrina by stepping up and pledging their own dollars to match or exceed any federal dollars to make it happen.
Our nation’s infrastructure serves as the backbone for economic growth and prosperity. The Administration’s proposed budget falls short of prioritizing investment in the local communities that are the basic building block of the national economy, and we need you to help stand up and send that message loud and clear to Congress.