Category: Federal

“THUD bill is a non-starter,” says Smart Growth America President and CEO Geoff Anderson

Earlier today the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies passed its fiscal year 2016 funding bill. In response, Smart Growth America’s President and CEO Geoff Anderson issued the following statement.

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Senate committee votes “yes” on financing for transit-oriented development

wicker-booker-rrif

Today, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation unanimously approved the Railroad Reform, Enhancement, and Efficiency Act (S. 1626). The bill expands the capabilities of the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF), a $30 billion loan program to provide needed financing for transit-oriented development infrastructure and development projects near passenger rail stations.

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It’s smart growth week in the U.S. Senate

Well, it isn’t really smart growth week in the Senate. But it sure feels that way.

Senate committees will consider three different bills this week that will impact federal housing, transportation, and community development programs.

First, the Environment and Public Works committee will consider the DRIVE Act, the newest version of the federal transportation bill, which will either expand or curtail crucial transit-oriented development and Complete Streets programs. The bill includes several strong points, including making transit-oriented-development eligible for the TIFIA program, and lowering project cost thresholds from $50 million to $10 million. It also requires that all modes of transportation be considered when designing National Highway System projects and improves design standards for all roadways by integrating the NACTO Urban Design Guide into federal design standards. The bill incorporates resilience and system reliability as considerations for regional and statewide transportation and slightly increases the funds provided to local communities and regions by five percent through the Surface Transportation Program, and by fully directing all Transportation Alternative Program funds to locals communities through competition. The bill could do more, and we encourage the Senate to do as much, but this is a solid first draft of the bill.

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House of Representatives considers appropriations bill that would slash funding to housing, transportation programs

Today the House of Representatives will continue consideration of its Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill, which will set funding levels for nearly all federal housing and transportation programs in the coming year.

The House’s current version of the bill would slash funding for many of these programs, including grants and technical assistance programs at the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Specifically, the bill:

  • Cuts funding for HUD’s HOME program from $900 million in FY15 to $767 million in FY16. HOME must be fully funded in addition to, not at the expense of, critically needed funding for the NHTF.
  • Cuts funding for HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods program from $90 million in FY15 to $20 million in FY16. Choice Neighborhoods supports struggling neighborhoods and aids in community revitalization.
  • Eliminates HUD’s Office of Economic Resilience, which has helped communities rebuild their economies, create jobs and improve economic development.
  • Cuts $200 million for new transit construction. This comes at a time when public transportation ridership is booming and cities of all sizes are looking to invest in new bus, rail transit, and bikeshare projects to help them stay economically competitive.
  • Slashes funding for USDOT’s TIGER program by 80 percent from last year’s level down to just $100 million. Over the past six years this competitive grant program has proven to be incredibly popular and effective, and its previous funding level was already inadequate to fulfill the huge demand for this program across the country. The program has funded innovative projects in communities of all sizes in all 50 states — and in districts both red and blue.
  • Cuts Amtrak’s budget by $250 million, just a few weeks after the tragic Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia and at a time when ridership is growing fast.

The bill does maintain funding levels for HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program at $3 billion.

Take action

Members of the House will consider this bill later today, so now is the time to voice your support for these important programs. Send a letter to your Representative today >>

These programs help Americans live in safe, affordable homes in convenient neighborhoods with transportation choices. That’s important for families and it’s crucial for our economy. Tell your Representative not to cut these important programs.

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A new push to make brownfield cleanup more affordable

esty-brownfields-bill-2015Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty and Mayor Patricia Murphy of New Milford, CT visit New Milford’s Century Brass mill, a brownfield site, in 2014. Photos via The News-Times.

Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-CT-5) is fighting hard to reinstate a tax incentive to help cleaning up contaminated land more affordable and more feasible.

Late last month, Esty introduced the Brownfields Redevelopment Tax Incentive Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 2002), a bill to re-establish the Brownfields Tax Incentive which ended in 2011.

Originally signed into law in 1997 and codified through Section 198(h) of the Internal Revenue Service’s tax code, the Incentive allowed taxpayers to fully deduct the costs of brownfield sites’ environmental cleanup the year the costs were incurred—making the arduous process more affordable for those who take it on.

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Bipartisan coalition introduces the Safe Streets Act of 2015

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A new bill in the House of Representatives would help communities across the country make streets safer and more convenient for everyone who uses them.

Late yesterday, Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA) and David Joyce (R-OH) introduced the Safe Streets Act of 2015 (HR 2071), a bill which would require all new federally-funded transportation projects to use a Complete Streets approach to planning, designing, and building roads.

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Senators Schatz, Markey, and Merkley introduce Transit Oriented Development Infrastructure Financing Act

A new bill introduced today in the Senate would help local communities better capitalize on development opportunities near public transportation by providing financing support in the form of loans or loan guarantees under the highly successful the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program.

Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the Transit Oriented Development Infrastructure Financing Act, a bill which would add a new provision to TIFIA to include financing for transit-oriented development projects. In response, Christopher Coes, Director of LOCUS, released the following statement.

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A new bill in Congress would create new financing option for transit-oriented development

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Transit-oriented development (TOD) can make it easier for people to live and work near public transportation. These places are in high demand and real estate developers are eager to build them, but because they’re often complicated TOD projects can be difficult to secure financing for.

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