The major organizations representing state and local governments in the U.S. – the National Governors Association (NGA), the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National League of Cities (NLC) – have jointly agreed on a set of “principles” they say should guide transportation funding efforts for the future.
“State and local governments are responsible for 97% of the nation’s interconnected surface transportation systems and contribute nearly 75% of the annual cost to operate and maintain those systems,” said NGA executive director Dan Crippen. “So it is vital that they help craft a vision for transportation within the U.S.”
The four organizations have developed seven policy principles to help guide Congress as it begins to debate surface transportation reauthorization legislation:
· Funding and Finance. State and local elected officials support the continuation of the “user pays” principle to guide transportation funding, with all options on the table for evaluation.
· Certainty and Stability. State and local elected officials support federal funding mechanisms designed to maintain reliable, long-term funding certainty.
· Program Reforms. State and local elected officials support preservation of core federal surface transportation programs but recognize the need for program reforms, and support funding and program flexibility.
· Project Delivery. State and local elected officials encourage federal efforts to streamline project delivery.
· Mobility Needs. State and local elected officials support a strong federal role in funding equitable transportation solutions for metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas across the country.
· System Performance. State and local elected officials support outcome-oriented performance measures developed by states and localities that are clear, measurable and fair.
· Safety and Security. All levels of government must cooperate to improve the safety and mobility of the surface transportation system, protect the environment, and ensure the security of transportation assets throughout the country.
The principles emphasize overall that Congressional reauthorization legislation must focus on reliability, system preservation, innovative solutions and partnerships, said NCSL executive director William Pound. “This will require long-term vision and stable funding,” he added.
“Much of our economy and quality of life relates directly to the safe, efficient and cost-effective mobility of people and products on our highways, roads, bridges and transit systems,” said NACo executive director Larry Naake. “To achieve these objectives, Congress needs to work with state and local government officials to improve the way projects large and small are planned, funded and constructed.”
“The ability to move goods and people easily depends on an integrated network of public transportation, roads, rails and bridges,” noted NLC executive director Donald Borut. “It is vital to the nation’s economic well-being that we focus on the most efficient ways to make this travel possible.”