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American Public Transportation Association

 To Senate and House Leadership on on Budget Build America Bonds and PAYGO Cuts

December 15, 2017
 
The Honorable Paul Ryan The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the U.S. House U.S. House Minority Leader
Washington, DC 20515         Washington, DC 20515
 
The Honorable Mitch McConnell The Honorable Charles Schumer
U.S. Senate Majority Leader U.S. Senate Minority Leader
Washington, DC 20510         Washington, DC 20510

 
 
Dear Speaker Ryan, Minority Leader Pelosi, Majority Leader McConnell, and Minority Leader Schumer:

 
On behalf of the more than 1,500 member organizations of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), I write to urge Congress to expeditiously resolve critical issues that are necessary to provide full funding for surface transportation programs and fulfill federal promises for holders of Build America Bonds.  That includes reaching a bipartisan budget deal that will allow the Appropriations Committees to pass fiscal year (FY) 2018 appropriations, as well as preventing any mandatory Pay-as-You-Go Act of 2010 (PAYGO) cuts.  
 
APTA strongly supports full funding for federal public transportation programs, including programs funded by the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund, Capital Investment Grants (CIG), TIGER grants, transit security grants, passenger rail programs, research, workforce development, and technical assistance programs.  It is critical that the FY 2018 appropriations legislation include language reaffirming the importance of the CIG program and direct the Department of Transportation to continue administering the CIG program in accordance with the procedural and substantive requirements of current law. These projects generate economic benefits, attract business development in project corridors, connect workers to jobs, create good new jobs, and relieve highway and road congestion. 
 
We are also concerned about the potential for automatic cuts that could result from the statutory PAYGO requirements following the enactment of tax reform legislation.  According to a recent Congressional Budget Office analysis, without congressional action to waive PAYGO or otherwise mitigate its effects, the tax reform legislation currently being considered by a joint conference committee would trigger severe automatic cuts including billions of dollars of Treasury Department subsidy payments to issuers of Build America Bonds and other direct-pay bonds.  Build America Bonds were issued with the promise of federal backing and have enhanced investment in numerous public infrastructure projects, including critical public transportation projects across the nation.  
 
Automatic cuts to federal subsidy payments for communities that issued Build America Bonds to leverage local funding on these important investments is inconsistent with federal efforts to use innovative financing to stretch available resources.  These cuts would increase costs by hundreds of millions of dollars in communities across the nation that used Build America Bonds to meet transportation needs.  
 
We urge Congress to act as quickly as possible to facilitate full-year appropriations bills that fully fund public transportation programs and take necessary action to avoid automatic cuts to programs that support investment in infrastructure and benefit the nation.  Thank you for your attention to these important issues.
 
Sincerely,

Richard A. White
Acting President and CEO
 
cc: Members of the House and Senate Appropriations and Budget Committees 
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