If you are a regular MOVEAmerica blog reader it won’t surprise you to know that not much surprises me when it comes to a lack of action in Washington in advancing real job-creating programs.
That is why I was privileged to participate today at an event that is a sharp contrast to the dysfunction and obsession with austerity that continue to grip Washington. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, who chairs the Democratic Governors Association, and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley led us in a discussion about strategies to shift the debate from austerity measures to job creation.
The most eye-opening aspect of our discussion was how governors are actually getting things done while Washington stands still. In other words, the gridlock in Congress has forced governors to move their own initiatives and find innovative ways to pay for them.
The commitment to rebuilding and modernizing our infrastructure and advancing a serious job creation agenda was clearly on display today, as these innovative governors – under the DGA banner – unveiled Investing in Our Public Infrastructure to Create Jobs. This is exactly the kind of action we need from our elected leaders.
The message I delivered today was straightforward. We can’t cut our way to prosperity. Speeches and fairy dust won’t put people to work. And had Congress funded a plan like the one DGA has unveiled or the President has championed, we would have at least a million more Americans on the job operating, maintaining and modernizing our transportation system. There’s your no-brainer of the day.
There are clear actions we must take:
We must enact a long-term investment strategy that will avoid the insolvency that federal transit, highway and bridge programs face due to Washington’s failure to act. DGA has provided a path forward – it is time to get something done.
We need a greater focus on the deteriorating state of transit systems that face both growing ridership and demand for new services, and collapsing balance sheets that result in service and job cuts and fare increases.
We need a long-term commitment to modernize our aviation system by making sure we fund the Next Generation air traffic control system and expand our airports.
We need to fully fund Amtrak’s expansion and improvements, and make Amtrak the centerpiece of the nation’s high-speed rail development.
We need to get serious about investing in our ports and navigation channels that are fast becoming uncompetitive with the rest of the world.
And we need new investments in regionally significant freight projects that connect all modes of transportation and feed into a national freight strategy.
Governors have to deal with the realities of a deteriorating infrastructure and weak job market. When they go to a podium and discuss problems in their states they actually have to fix them. Unlike too many in Washington, they can’t look the other way when their transportation systems, schools and sewers are falling apart. They can’t ignore underemployment and unemployment.
Today governors Shumlin and O’Malley showed us a better path forward. We will be joining them on the road to a real economic recovery with long-term investments in our economy leading the way.