There are currently four more or less viable bills in Congress --- two pretty good and two pretty bad --- and the House committee is starting to write their own version, due out shortly. The following descriptions are based, in part, on information from the National League of Cities. To download copies of the bills, click on their titles.
Sponsored by Senators Chafee and Moynihan, this bill preserves ISTEA's highway program with higher funding ($159 billion over 6 years), does not have a transit title yet but includes a statement of support for transit. The proposal has a lot in common with 25 ways to make transportation work contained in the STPP Blueprint for Reauthorization.
The Clinton Administration has released its version, called the NEXTEA (the National Economics Crossroads Transportation Efficiency Act). The bill pretty much stays the course with ISTEA. It includes $135.8 billion for highways (a 10% increase), it would authorize $30.5 billion for transit (a 3% drop), it preserves the federal-state-local government planning partnership,increases flexible funding, maintains most elements of ISTEA's "level playing field" between transit and highways, retains suballocation, and includes a 25% increase in funding for enhancements.
Sponsored by John Warner (VA) in the Senate and Tom DeLay (TX) in the House, this bill would undercut gains made by local governments under ISTEA, would eliminate CMAQ and Enhancements (House version). Originally proposed by state transportation departments in donor states, its an attempt to give more highway-oriented money to those agencies and more decision-making power to all state DOTs, at least partly at the expense of MPOs.
Our own Senator Baucus' STARS2000 Bill shares some of the Regulatory Streamlining/FREE the DOTs emphasis of STEP21 but pushes funding formulas that favor highway building in rural places like Montana, Idaho, and the Dakotas. It shifts funding towards the National Highway System at the expense of the Surface Transportation Program (60/40 vs the current 40/60 split); it keeps the Enhancement program intact but cuts the Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality program by 2/3 and, interestingly enough, gives none of that money to Montana. No wonder the Montana DOT helped write this bill! Our favorite quote is:
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