Exactly the Wrong Time to Cut Back on Transit, Smart Growth, and High-Speed Rail

So far, a government shutdown has been averted. Yesterday, President Obama signed a two-week spending bill that keeps the federal government open and buys more time for the Senate, House, and White House to agree on a budget for the rest of the fiscal year.  The extension contains about $4 billion in spending cuts, but nothing which threatens smart transportation.  As Sean Barry at Transportation for America notes, the cuts mirror those proposed by President Obama’s fiscal year 2012 budget and “only two budget items — $650 million from a one-time Federal Highway Administration program and a handful of legislative earmarks – are transportation related.”

But the extension just buys more of the impasse between the Senate and House on what constitutes an acceptable level of spending cuts and where they should be targeted. As previously noted in MTR, the House passed a spending bill last week with deep cuts to transit, smart growth and rail – investments that unequivocally create more jobs per dollar invested than any other type of transportation investment (see herehere and here). It remains to be seen how the Senate will respond.  But one thing is clear: with global unrest sending gas prices skyrocketing and threatening the economic recovery, it’s exactly the wrong time to cut back on transit, rail, and active transportation.