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Dear Chairman Boxer:
On behalf of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and its more than 1,400 member organizations, I write to offer our views on the development of legislation to extend further the authorization of federal surface transportation programs in a jobs bill. While we need the authority to use funds that have already been appropriated, we continue to believe that the best way to create jobs and address infrastructure needs is to enact a long-term authorization bill.
At a minimum, we urge Congress to extend authorizing law through Fiscal Year 2010. This would allow the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to allocate to transit systems funds that have already been appropriated by Congress, thus ensuring that maximum job creation can occur. We also support a longer extension that runs through calendar year 2010, especially if the extra time gives Congress the opportunity to enact a longer-term authorization bill that provides increased investment in public transportation. Extension legislation in a jobs bill should also ensure that both the Mass Transit Account and Highway Account of the Federal Highway Trust Fund remain solvent for the time period covered.
We appreciate your continued leadership in the development of a jobs bill as well. We strongly believe that any effective jobs bill must include investment in the nation’s transportation infrastructure. Without a jobs bill and a long-term authorization as soon as possible, contractors and suppliers that provide goods and services to public transportation systems will begin laying workers off as projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) are completed. At present, no additional ARRA funding remains available for new ready-to-go public transportation projects. All of the current ARRA funds have now been committed to projects. We look forward to working with you to ensure that both of these critical pieces of legislation are enacted expeditiously.