Last week’s measures to avoid the Fiscal Cliff led to some drastic compromises in the tax code and budgets for government agencies. Here’s how the fiscal cliff legislation affected programs and policies that promote and support transit, cycling and walking:
- The bill restores the transit commuter benefit to $240/month through 2013, and makes it retroactive for 2012 as well. The IRS hasn’t said yet how to claim the 2012 benefit; maybe on your income taxes—we’ll see.
- The bill delays “sequestration” cuts until March, giving Congress more time to avert them. As a reminder, sequestration refers to the automatic cuts (of about 10%) that were scheduled for nearly all government programs for the beginning of the year.
- Most surface transportation (anything funded out of the Highway Trust Fund, including road and transit formula programs) would not be impacted by sequestration. That does not mean it will be immune if Congress passes a new deal to replace the sequestration cuts.
- New Starts (which pays for new transit capital projects), Amtrak, TIGER, USDOT’s Sustainable Communities program are funded out of the general fund and would be impacted by sequestration if Congress does nothing.
For an overall (non-transportation) look at the fiscal cliff deal, see the Washington Post.
New House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Members
Here is a quick note on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. The Northeast will have two new members on the committee—Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY). In addition, Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Albio Sires (D-NJ), and Tim Bishop (D-NY) will remain on the committee.
LoBiondo has been chair of the Coast Guard/Maritime Subcommittee, but according to Transportation 4 America he may now become the head of a subcommittee’s on Highways and Transit or Railroads/Pipelines/Hazardous Materials.
The new chair of the T&I Committee will be Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania. In some ways, Shuster may offer a better approach than Mica:
- He has signaled an openness to new transportation funding, seems to care about rail (though he is a proponent of privatization), and has a reputation as a cooperative believer in bipartisanship.
- However, he seems very skeptical that there should be a federal role in bike/ped, and
- whether House transportation policy gets better probably has more to do with how accommodating House leadership is toward its Tea Party wing.
This information comes to us from our friends at the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.