Last month, President Bush proposed a federal budget that cuts funding for a number of critical programs that help revitalize communities, provide transportation and affordable housing choices, and protect the environment.
(Note: Our budget analysis can be found here)
Perhaps most shocking is the Bush administration’s budget proposal to transfer an estimated $3.2 billion from public transportation funds to highway projects in a short-sighted attempt to solve the federal transportation system’s financial woes. If approved, money for new trains, bike paths, sidewalks, and light rail could be eliminated. As we said before in the above post, switching trust fund money from transit to highways is a temporary fix at best that doesn’t solve the larger problem, “akin to putting a band-aid on a gaping wound while also cutting off an arm.”
Some of the other funding cuts include:
- A 22% cut in funding for the Community Block Development Grant program, from $3.87 billion to $3 Billion;
- A decrease in funding for Amtrak, from $1.325 billion to $800 million;
- A 10% cut in funding levels for the Department of Transportation; and
- The complete elimination of funding for the HOPE VI housing redevelopment program and Section 108 loan guarantees, and
- A reduction in funding for Brownfields redevelopment.
To read our full analysis of the President’s FY 2009 budget proposal, prepared for SGA by Advocacy Associates, click here to visit the budget analysis section of our website.
If you would like to take action, urge your Congressional members to prevent cuts in funding for these important programs, and to increase funding for the EPA Smart Growth program, level-funded for several years, to $7 million.
Below is a sample e-mail that you can send to your Congressional members, urging them to restore funding for important community development programs in this year’s budget cycle. You can look up your House representatives here and your Senators here.
I’m writing to urge you to protect funding for affordable housing, public transit, and community development programs in the FY09 federal budget. As you may know, the President’s budget proposal cuts funding for many of these programs, which provide critical support revitalizing communities in our state.[ ADD SPECIFIC STATE AND LOCAL EXAMPLES HERE TO PERSONALIZE YOUR LETTER ]
In particular, the administration proposes a 22% cut in funding for the Community Block Development Grant (CDBG) program, a 10% cut in funding for the Department of Transportation, and the elimination of the HOPE VI affordable housing program. Perhaps most troubling is the administration’s proposal to transfer $3.2 billion from public transportation funds to highway projects in the event of a fiscal shortfall. While there is serious need for fixing the nation’s highway system, it should not come at the expense of providing efficient, environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternatives to driving for Americans.
As Congress crafts its FY09 budget, I encourage you to not just maintain, but to increase funding for these programs, which are important tools for creating livable, sustainable, and successful communities. In particular, I urge you to support funding the EPA Smart Growth program at $7 million, an increase of $4 million from its current budget. This program provides critical research and technical assistance to help communities meet today’s development, energy, transportation, and other challenges.