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Dems: Oregon would lose over $1 billion in House proposal

Posted by on July 7th, 2011 at 5:35 pm

House Democrats have reacted sharply to the transportation reauthorization proposal released yesterday by the Republican-controlled House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.

Among the issues they (and many other critics) have with the bill is that it cuts back infrastructure spending by one-third from current levels.

To help drive that point home, House Democrats have published a state-by-state breakdown of how the Republican’s funding reduction proposal could impact spending (PDF).

According to their numbers (based on FHWA data), Oregon would get $2,975,097,936 over the next six years at current transportation funding levels. Over that same time period, the current House proposal would send $1,968,585,926 to Oregon — for a difference of $1,006,512,010.

Interestingly, the state that would see the largest decline is Florida, which happens to be the home state of House Rep. John Mica, the Chairman of the committee that drafted the proposal. According to the numbers, Florida’s highway program would be slashed by $3,597,745,986 (this may be why there’s a big backlash brewing among Mica’s constituents – more on that later).

Not only would states get less funding if the House proposal was passed in its current form, but dedicated funding for bicycle projects through programs like Safe Routes to School and Transportation Enhancements would also be eliminated. This means fewer dollars and less incentive to spend what remains on anything but major highway projects that are deemed to “not serve a federal purpose.” This one-two punch has sparked major outcry from bicycle advocates and Democrats in the House.

Many details of the House proposal are yet to be released (critics point out the hypocrisy in being kept in the dark, given the Republicans calls for transparency); but at this point, it seems anyone who cares about a future where single-occupancy vehicle travel and car-centric highways aren’t the dominant form of mobility, have reason to be concerned.

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  • 9watts July 7, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    The cuts for each state appear to be based on the CBO Baseline . If you look at CA, the absolute amount is higher than the other states, but the percentage represented by the cut of the CBO Baseline is about 33.4%, just like all the other states I checked.

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  • Joe Adamski July 7, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    I’m not sure the total impact if it were cut to the levels shown, nationwide. Roads in general would suffer, and longer commutes,more expensive shipping for motor traffic. Cyclists would lose funding for facilities, but the number of cyclists would increase, i believe, because it would make so much more sense in the time/cost/convenience calculus. We might all end up on fat tires as the potholes will be awesome.

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    • Rick Hamell July 7, 2011 at 7:24 pm

      This is pretty much what I was thinking. If people don’t have roads they can drive on, why would they be driving a car at all?

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  • Lazy Spinner July 7, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    I’m with you, Joe. This may just show drivers how much their drive is subsidized and how much they take for granted. Of course, I’d offer to fully fund roadway improvements via a new federal gasoline tax hike that would probably put the cost of a gallon up around $7 or so to really drive the point home. (Pun fully intended!)

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    • Kevin July 7, 2011 at 11:39 pm

      How much is bike riding subsidized…nearly 100% because you aren’t paying gas tax. And sure you will pop up with “Oh and I don’t pay any property taxes or blah blah” 18% of property taxes in Oregon is divided between Health, Roads, Sheriffs and Corrections at the county level (http://www.oregon.gov/DOR/PTD/property-dollars.shtml). Out of that 18% (in May 2011 this was about $3.6m for Washington County, as an example) about $129k goes to roads (http://www.co.washington.or.us/Support_Services/Finance/property-tax-distribution.cfm)….yes that’s right….its about 3.58%. So lets REALLY talk about subsidized infrastructure.

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      • Chris I July 8, 2011 at 7:52 am

        How much wear and tear does a bike place on the road compared to a car? I’ll give you a hint, it’s a lot less than 3.8%. Cyclists subsidize cars.

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      • Jacob July 8, 2011 at 8:56 am

        Really, 100%? FYI most cyclists drive too.

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      • Kristen July 8, 2011 at 9:50 am

        Looks like I’m going to screw up your percentages– both my partner and myself are cyclists and we also own and drive cars. He drives a lot more than I do because of where he works– he doesn’t have any relatively safe or connected way to ride to work, so he drives all the time.

        100% of my cyclist friends are also drivers, some of them drive big diesel pickups or gas-guzzling SUVs.

        But hey, that’s a great generalization you made.

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      • David Parsons July 8, 2011 at 11:27 am

        Unless you ride a bus, train, airplane, or ferryboat it’s 100% subsidized no matter whether you drive or ride a bicycle. That’s just the way it is; gas taxes only approximately pay for the roads (and don’t pay for the costs of tax collection) and the government’s latest round of service trimming to pay for tax cuts for billionaires won’t change that at all.

        But, as other people have said, all this is going to do is make bicycle riding more popular; as the funds for road maintenance shrink more and more roads will start to look like those disintegrating dirt roads in SE Portland, and I can guarantee that those raggedy roads are easier to ride on a bike than they’d ever be in a sedan. And then the pretend gas tax revenues will drop, and the government will trim MOW again — it’s a virtuous circle if you’re riding 45mm tires, not quite so virtuous if you’re someone who occasionally needs to drive a car.

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  • Bjorn July 7, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    sure seems like the perfect time to commit to dumping at least 4 billion dollars into a giant freeway expansion that we don’t need…

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  • Jeffrey Bernards July 7, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    All the more reason to ban studded tires and prevent the pre-mature wearing of our roads and bridges.
    Make a donation today, thanks.

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    • jim July 7, 2011 at 9:26 pm

      does that ban them from bikes too?

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  • Ben July 8, 2011 at 6:28 am

    Fair enough, but the cost of bike infrastructure is tiny compared to that of automobile infrastructure. To be completely fair, you need to recognize that bicycles predate paved roads and other automobile centric infrastructure. The largest cost of current bicycle infrastructure comes from displacing and working with the pre-existing automobile infrastructure.

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  • bev July 8, 2011 at 10:21 am

    It’s my understanding that Mica’s proposal aligns with current revenue. In other words – this IS what the gas tax brings in, which pokes a nice hole in the perception that the gas tax is paying for everything.

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  • Marid July 8, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Absolute disaster. We should be increasing infrastructure spending, not decreasing it. By making transportation more difficult, Republicans are being decidedly business-hostile. Surprise, surprise.

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    • jim July 8, 2011 at 11:21 am

      We want to increase spending but we dont want to pay for it. If you got a $2000 bill in the mail tomorow that was to cover the cost of roads, most people would rather not pay it. If we build and pay with credit, then people say yes go ahead and build.

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  • Gerik July 8, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    If you want to take action on this issue and protect dedicated funding for bikes, click here: http://www.bta4bikes.org/btablog/2011/07/08/like-bikes-time-to-tell-congress/

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  • JPDX July 8, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Maybe cyclists should start paying a tax for infrastructure specific to these means of transport. Do you think money comes out of thin air? No, it comes in form of massive debt to China. I personally think all non-critical infrastructure should stop. I am tired of seeing roads re-paved just to have some Aholes rip them to pieces 6 months later with snow tires.

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  • JPDX July 8, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    We want to increase spending but we dont want to pay for it. If you got a $2000 bill in the mail tomorow that was to cover the cost of roads, most people would rather not pay it. If we build and pay with credit, then people say yes go ahead and build.

    Exactly correct. It is the same way consumers buy their most expensive items. TV’s, Cars, Laptops. Using credit is easy. But try handing over cash… you don’t have it, or don’t want to part with it… Americans need to wake the F up.

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