[As posted by Keith Laing in The Hill’s Transportation Report]
A key transportation union said Tuesday that the budget produced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) Tuesday that would cut $5.3 trillion in spending over the next decade would devastate the national transportation system.
The Washington-based AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department (TTD) said Ryan’s budget would reduce transportation spending from $88.6 billion in the 2012 fiscal year to $57.1 billion in 2013. By comparison, President Obama’s budget proposal called for spending nearly $80 billion annually on road and transit projects.
TTD President Ed Wytkind said the difference showed the Ryan budget was bad for transportation.
“The Ryan budget resolution released today is the worst for transportation that we have ever seen,” Wytkind said in a written statement. “It not only turns a blind eye toward programs that would create millions of middle-class jobs, help seniors and assist the most vulnerable in American society, it also leaves our transportation system in a state of ruin.”
Ryan’s budget proposal comes as lawmakers in Congress are considering a new appropriations bill for federal transportation programs. The Senate has approved a bill that would spend $109 billion on transportation over the next two years, and the House said Tuesday that it would pass a short-term extension of short-term of current funding ahead of March 31 expiration date to give itself more to craft a bill of its own.
The House is seeking more time because GOP leaders’ proposal for a five-year, $260 billion transportation bill has struggled to gain support amid complaints from lawmakers in both parties.
Both chambers’ transportation bills are far short of Obama’s call for a transportation bill that spends $476 billion over the next six years.
In a letter accompanying the release of his budget proposal, Ryan said the recommendations “offers a blueprint for safeguarding America from the perils of debt, doubt and decline.
“Americans, not Washington, deserve to choose the path their nation takes, and this budget presents a clear choice between the bleak future toward which the nation is currently headed and the prosperous future that Americans can build together with a government that is limited and effective,” he said.
But Wytkind argued that Ryan’s transportation proposal was noxious.
“This couldn’t come at a worse time,” he said. “Our transit systems are cutting service and jobs at a time when Amtrak, commuter rail and bus systems are seeing ridership at their second highest level since 1957.
“Perhaps worst of all, the cuts in this budget to vital national interests such as transportation and retirement security are used, yet again, to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans,” Wytkind continued. “What a disgrace.”
The full Ryan budget proposal can be viewed here.