Missed the Deadline for Health Insurance Enrollment? Consider Medicaid and CHIP!

Yes, today is the 2014 deadline to enroll in health insurance through the Marketplace. However, families with low- or moderate-incomes may qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which have no application deadline. This means that even after today, qualifying families may still enroll in Medicaid or CHIP.

Medicaid and CHIP are the two most important public health insurance programs for working and low-income families. These programs provide low- or no-cost benefits including coverage for inpatient and outpatient hospital services, screenings and preventative services, prescription drugs, immunizations, and mental health services.

If families have missed the deadline for health insurance enrollment through the Marketplace, there may be other options in Medicaid and CHIP! Here are some of the ways cities can connect families to these important programs.

EPA Local Government Advisory Committee Key to Local-Federal Partnership


This week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC) met in Washington, DC to discuss local perspectives on climate, water, resiliency and environmental justice with Administration officials from EPA headquarters, regional administrators and the White House.

At a time when so many environmental issues are at the forefront for communities and the nation, the LGAC serves as a sounding board for EPA on rules and regulations, as well as policies and programs, such as the Agency’s sustainability and climate adaptation efforts.

“I was pleased to join leaders from across the nation to help the EPA shape sensible and workable rules and regulations for communities,” said LGAC member Cindy Circo, Mayor Pro Tem, Kansas City, Missouri. “The LGAC meeting was also an opportunity to share Kansas City’s passion and success in the area of sustainability while learning about areas where we can be doing even more.”

Over the course of the two and a half day meeting, committee members had conversations with Administrator Gina McCarthy, Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, Regional Administrators, and other officials about the importance of intergovernmental collaboration and cooperation on environmental issues.

A key theme that was repeated throughout the meeting was how the Agency supports local innovations and works to identify and highlight local sustainability practices that can serve as a model for other communities. Nowhere was this more evident than in the conversation regarding President Obama’s State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.

Three LGAC members serve on that Task Force, which is charged with making recommendations to the President on how the federal government can better support local governments and states in preparing for and addressing the impacts of climate change.

David Agnew, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, who co-chairs the Task Force, called on members of the LGAC and all local officials to submit specific recommendations (by early April) to the Task Force on actions the federal government can take to support local efforts.

Agnew said there is a “strong desire on the part of the President to move the ball forward in as many ways possible [on climate preparedness and resilience] before the end of his term.” This is welcome news to local governments who are already leading the charge but seeking additional tools and resources from the federal government.

The LGAC also dived into specifics, hearing an update on the recently-released proposed rule to change the Clean Water Act definition of “Waters of the US.” LGAC members were able to directly share with EPA how the proposed rule might impact their communities – from an arid environment like Arizona to wetter east coast communities.

“The LGAC is a great opportunity to review EPA rules and shape them so they work for local communities, the business community and our constituents,” said LGAC member Dave Richins, Council Member, Mesa, Arizona. “It is fascinating to be at the confluence of environmental protection and economic development and find solutions that work for both.”

Other NLC members on the committee include NLC 1st Vice President Ralph Becker, Mayor, Salt Lake City, Utah; Mayor Johhny Dupree, Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Gary, Indiana.

Carolyn Berndt

About the author: Carolyn Berndt is the Principal Associate for Infrastructure and Sustainability on the NLC Federal Advocacy team. She leads NLC’s advocacy, regulatory, and policy efforts on energy and environmental issues, including water infrastructure and financing, air and water quality, climate change, and energy efficiency. Follow Carolyn on Twitter at @BerndtCarolyn.

Time is Running Out for Your Residents to Obtain Federally-Subsidized Health Insurance


There is less than one week left for your residents to obtain federally-subsidized health insurance through HealthCare.gov.  But as an elected official there is much you can do to help them get federally-subsidized health insurance.

Please let your residents know that if they do not have employer-sponsored insurance, or have not yet purchased insurance through their state Health Insurance Marketplace, March 31 will be the last day this year they can obtain federally-subsidized health insurance.

Let your residents know that even if they have purchased health insurance on the individual insurance market, they might be able to find better and cheaper insurance through HealthCare.gov.

And let your residents know that obtaining health insurance through HealthCare.gov is quick and easy.

If they have access to a computer, all they have to do is go to the website and follow the prompts, which will take them to their state’s Health Insurance Marketplace where they can register and obtain the health insurance they need and deserve.

If they don’t have access to a computer, then HealthCare.gov is only a phone call away. They can contact their Health Insurance Marketplace by calling 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325) to apply, pick a plan, and enroll.

And remind them of the benefits of enrolling in HealthCare.gov and having insurance. Whether they are  uninsured, been denied coverage in the past, or just want to explore new options, the Health Insurance Marketplace will give them more choices and control over their health coverage, and the Marketplace is operating in all states, so no matter where they live they will have access to coverage.

Remind your residents that in the Health Insurance Marketplace they can compare coverage options based on price, benefits, quality, and other features important to them. Remind them that they can choose the combination of price and benefits that fits their budget and needs.

Also, let your residents know:

  • They may pay less for their insurance. The Marketplace application will tell them if they are eligible for a new way to get lower costs on your monthly premiums or out-of-pocket costs for private insurance. They will also learn if they are eligible for free or low-cost coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
  • All plans must offer a comprehensive set of essential health benefits including doctor visits, preventive care, hospitalization, prescriptions, and more.
  • Pre-existing conditions will be covered: Even if they have been turned down in the past, health insurers won’t be able to deny them coverage or charge them more due to pre-existing health conditions, including a pregnancy or disability.
  • They can get personal help in their area: If they need help finding a plan, several kinds of help will be available to give them personalized assistance with the process.

Please let your residents know now is their chance to get the health insurance they need and are entitled to, and it is only a click (HealthCare.gov) or phone call (1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325)) away.

Neil Bomberg

About the author: Neil Bomberg is NLC’s Program Director for Human Development. Through Federal Advocacy, he lobbies on behalf of cities around education, workforce development, health care, welfare, and pensions. Follow Neil on Twitter at @neilbomberg.

10 Things Cities Can Do to Enroll Kids and Families in Medicaid and CHIP

Health benefits
In my last blog post, I examined the reasons why cities and local elected officials are getting involved in enrolling children and families in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). It’s simple—connecting families to public health insurance programs is good governance. By doing so, cities reduce the burden on hospital emergency rooms, children are healthier and have greater academic achievement, and parents take less time off work to care for sick kids.

So now the question is: what can cities do to effectively reach out to families and connect them with Medicaid and CHIP?

From March 10-12, 2014, representatives from 12 cities working on NLC’s Cities Expanding Health Access for Children and Families initiative gathered in Washington, D.C. for trainings and peer-learning opportunities on how to develop outreach and enrollment campaigns to connect children and families to Medicaid and CHIP. During the last day of the convening, participants brainstormed ways cities and local elected officials can strengthen outreach efforts and increase enrollment.

Here are 10 great ideas they came up with:

  • Use city proclamations to impart the importance of health insurance and foster a culture of coverage.
  • Encourage Medicaid or CHIP enrollment by offering free access to community events (concerts, shows, fairs, etc.) to city residents who present a Medicaid or CHIP card.
  • Convene community stakeholders to partner in enrolling families in Medicaid and CHIP.
  • Hold town hall meetings and use focus groups to understand community outreach and enrollment needs.
  • Use public spaces and city departments for enrollment and outreach activities.
  • Initiate city-wide competitions amongst city council districts to enroll the greatest number of children and families in Medicaid and CHIP.
  • Publicize outreach and enrollment campaigns by applying stickers and decals to municipal vehicles.
  • Use city websites to disseminate information about Medicaid and CHIP, enrollment options, financial assistance for health insurance, and availability of in-person assistance to complete enrollment.
  • Use local TV and radio stations to conduct enrollment phone-a-thons and spread awareness of city enrollment and outreach campaigns.
  • Use the bully pulpit to inform families that they can enroll in Medicaid or CHIP even past the March 31, 2014 Affordable Care Act open enrollment deadline!

These are just a few ideas on how cities can help enroll children and families in Medicaid and CHIP. Have others? Email me at teng@nlc.org with your thoughts and follow us on Twitter at @NLC_Health!

Open Data: A New Tool for Building Climate Resilience

This post was written by C. Forbes Tompkins and Christina DeConcini of the World Resources Institute (WRI). The post originally appeared on WRI’s blog.


As communities across America continue to experience increasing climate impacts in the form of rising seas, heat waves, and extreme weather, local and federal leaders are starting to roll up their sleeves. Yesterday, the White House unveiled the Climate Data Initiative, a project aimed at arming local leaders across the country with information they need to plan for climate impacts while building more resilience. The initiative provides a key tool for helping those at the frontlines of climate change—America’s local communities.

The Climate Data Initiative delivers on a key element of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, announced last June. This new initiative creates an online hub of government data on climate impacts, giving local communities a detailed look at how a warmer world may impact their critical infrastructure like bridges, roads, and canals.

The initial phase will focus on providing data and tools related to sea-level rise and coastal flooding, and later phases will include information addressing other climate-related impacts. This release of comprehensive government data will be supported by additional efforts from the philanthropic and private sectors.

Google, for example, has committed to donate significant cloud computing and storage and to work with partners to create a near real-time system to monitor drought throughout the continental United States. Intel, Microsoft, and ESRI will create various maps, apps, and other tools and programs to help local officials and other stakeholders understand the climate risks specific to their communities.

Local Communities Are at the Frontlines of Climate Change

The initiative could be an important step in preparing the country for the impacts of climate change. From coastal towns in Southeast Florida to the world’s largest naval base in Hampton Roads, VA, local communities are increasingly vulnerable to sea level rise and other dangerous effects of climate change.

Indeed, climate change is already impacting virtually every community throughout the country—and these effects are poised to worsen with every degree of warming. Consider the following:

  • The world has now experienced 348 consecutive months where average global monthly temperatures were above the 20th century average. In other words, no one younger than 29 years old has lived a month of their lives where monthly temperatures were at or below average.
  • Scientists have found that the conditions leading to the 2011 Texas drought are 20 times more likely to occur now than in the 1960s due to human-induced climate change.
  • Sea-level rise has given a springboard for storm surge and coastal flooding that has amplified the impact of coastal storms, like Hurricane Sandy. Today’s annual probability of a Sandy-level flood reoccurrence has nearly doubled compared to 1950.
  • The Western United States now experiences seven times more large-scale wildfires than it did in the 1970s.
  • Extreme precipitation events have increased in every region of the United States between 1958 and 2007.

Escalating climate impacts not only threaten human well-being, they’re causing costly damages to critical infrastructure—damages that are expected to worsen in a warmer world with more frequent and intense extreme weather.

Severe weather is already the single-leading cause of power outages in the country, causing an estimated 679 widespread power outages between 2003 and 2012 and costing the economy, businesses, school systems, and emergency agencies billions of dollars.

Urban infrastructure is especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. A 2007 extreme precipitation event in New York City, for example, only lasted two hours, but caused a system of transit failures that stranded 2.5 million riders. And in Miami Beach, officials say it will cost as much as $400 million to prepare the city’s drainage system for sea-level rise-induced flooding and storm surge.

The Role of Open Data in Climate Resilience

While climate change will affect all communities throughout the United States, the type of impacts felt will vary at the region-, county-, and even city-levels. Communities cannot adapt to or mitigate these impacts without first understanding exactly how they will be affected.

Open data like that provided in the Climate Data Initiative can help provide this level of information. For instance, the climate data site will offer infrastructure and geographic mapping data sets—showing specific bridges, roads, canals, etc.—and help local decision-makers understand how this infrastructure might be impacted by things like sea level rise, drought, or extreme weather. Local governments can use this current and relevant data as a basis for developing effective plans and utilizing resources.

The Climate Data Initiative builds on other work that connects federal activities with local climate action, including a Presidential Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience and the recent budget request for a $1 billion fund for climate resiliency. This latest initiative by the administration not only reinforces the President’s acknowledgement that climate change is occurring, but also his prioritization of empowering local governments to address the issue.

Helping localities throughout the nation become more resilient is an incredibly important piece in overcoming the climate challenge. But, as organizers of this initiative acknowledge, adaptation and resiliency strategies will need to be accompanied by comprehensive reductions in annual greenhouse gas emissions at the national and international levels. Adaptation combined with comprehensive mitigation action is the only way to ensure a sustainable future—both locally and globally.

Partnerships Key to Twin Cities Light Rail

This post was written by Roger Williams and Mark Weinheimer to introduce a new case study from NLC about the partnerships that contributed to the construction of the Central Corridor light rail line in St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota.


One of the ways cities have tackled challenges to their resiliency has been to undertake transformational projects. These cities have recognized that staying the same, or doing small things, don’t necessarily bring about transformation. But strategically placed projects involving the key challenges of efficient transportation, economic development, community preservation, and job creation can make a difference.

But, given the scope, size and impact of such projects, cities have had to build partnerships and relationships with a diverse group of stakeholders and residents to get these efforts moving. Quite often, they also have had to work to overcome a legacy of past missteps that have eroded community trust and devastated communities.

Despite concerns that partnerships take time and large projects consume resources, study after study shows that  transportation alternatives that are regionally focused, cost effective, located close to affordable housing, and that get residents to their jobs help make cities more amenable to innovative industries and more resilient.

The relationships that were forged by the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, as they undertook the Central Corridor light rail project connecting their downtowns, is an example of how municipalities are coming together with a wide range of partners to overcome obstacles and make these transformational projects a reality.

Working with the philanthropic community and a broad spectrum of civic organizations that serve the communities impacted by the project, local leaders in the Twin Cities developed a template for planning that other cities can learn from.

Far reaching strategic alliances and the “plan-full” approach that involved diverse groups, along with the leadership roles played by various actors and sectors, are the key elements that have enhanced this project’s chances for success. The leaders were able to successfully create a shared vision for vibrancy, economic viability, and neighborhood resilience.

The result is not only a new light rail line, but an increased number of affordable homes nearby, preservation of other homes, new arts and cultural offerings, and a vital retail sector that reflects the ethnic diversity of the communities along the rail line.

The Central Corridor light rail line which is scheduled to open in mid-2014 will also provide cost effective transportation for the residents to connect them to jobs in both cities and in the region, and in general strengthen the attractiveness of living in these communities.

NLC and Dept. of Education Partner to Advance Afterschool Opportunities

This post was written by Jen Rinehart, Vice President of Research & Policy at the Afterschool Alliance. It originally appeared on the Afterschool Alliance’s Afterschool Snack blog.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to talk with a room full of mayors, city council members and education/policy advisors about the role of federal policy in local afterschool efforts.  With a crowd like that, I certainly felt like I was standing on the wrong side of the podium!

It was a dynamic discussion about how federal policies related to 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants, Child Care Development funds and newly proposed initiatives—like Race to the Top-Equity and Opportunity—may impact local afterschool initiatives.

Many of the city leaders in the room were first drawn to afterschool because they recognized it as a strategy to keep their communities safe.  After learning more about afterschool, they readily saw how keeping youth safe also supports working families, which is linked to worker productivity and therefore economic development.  This necessitates a skilled workforce of the future, which brings you right back to education and safety again.  In short, they were quickly sold on the importance of afterschool.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at the Congressional City Conference.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at the Congressional City Conference.

I’d like to take credit for the participants’ excitement about afterschool, but in truth it was most likely the result of an announcement made earlier that morning.  Saint Paul, Minnesota, Mayor Chris Coleman, president of the National League of Cities, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan laid out a plan detailing how they would work together to boost partnerships among federal and local governments, schools, families, faith-based organizations, businesses, nonprofits and universities to advance learning, enhance student engagement and improve schools in cities across the country.

Increasing access to afterschool programs, along with early childhood education and postsecondary education, was a key part of the plan.  It is exciting to see afterschool recognized by these two national leaders and organizations as a key strategy to close the achievement gap and improve educational opportunities for all.  Throughout the year, community conversations will be held in the following cities, with leadership from the mayor of each city:

Avondale, Arizona – Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers
Berkeley, California – Mayor Tom Bates
Dayton, Ohio – Mayor Nan Whaley
Gary, Indiana – Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson
Hattiesburg, Mississippi – Mayor Johnny Dupree
Kansas City, Missouri – Mayor Sly James
Louisville, Kentucky – Mayor Greg Fischer
Madison, Wisconsin – Mayor Paul Soglin
Memphis, Tennessee – Mayor A C Wharton
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania- Mayor Michael Nutter
Phoenix, Arizona – Mayor Greg Stanton
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Mayor William Peduto
Saint Paul, Minnesota – Mayor Chris Coleman
Salt Lake City, Utah – Mayor Ralph Becker
Savannah, Georgia – Mayor Edna Branch Jackson

We are excited to follow these conversations and to see what plans take shape in each of these 15 cites, and hopefully even more cities, throughout the year.

AFF Transportation Bonds Support Infrastructure, Jobs

According to estimates from the Federal Highway Administration, local governments invested $53 billion in highway programs raised from local revenue sources, yet that amount does not come close to meeting the needs for investment in roads, transit, bridges, waterways and airports.

While Congress debates the renewal of a national surface transportation program and how to pay for it, local leaders continue to find ways to begin to meet the funding gap. The federal-local partnership is vital to local initiatives and provide local governments with new financing tools.

Among the most effective reforms included in the last surface transportation bill – MAP-21 – was a dramatic increase in funding for a low-interest federal financing tool known as the “Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act” (TIFIA) program. President Obama requested that TIFIA funding be expanded to $1 billion in FY 2015 so the program can continue to successfully bolster the financial plans for a number of major highway and transit projects across the United States.

Projects benefitting from TIFIA funding have included Light rail Los Angeles, the Goethals Bridge between New Jersey and New York and public transit in Dallas.

Proponents of a new class of qualified tax credit bonds, called “America Fast Forward” (AFF) Transportation Bonds would build on an initiative already receiving federal credit support. These qualified tax credit bonds are taxable rate bonds issued by state, local or other eligible issuers where the federal government subsidizes most or all of the interest through granting investors annual tax credits in lieu of cash interest payments from the borrower. To date, Congress has authorized qualified tax credit bond programs totaling in excess of $36 billion for forestry conservation, renewable energy projects, energy conservation, qualified zone academies and new school construction.

According to supporters, AFF Transportation Bonds would represent a sixth class of such bonds, targeted at surface transportation capital projects. If enacted into law, AFF bonds will provide more than $45 billion in bond capacity for major transportation infrastructure projects and result in the creation of more than 500,000 jobs for skilled American workers. In Los Angeles, which is advancing a number of projects with significant TIFIA loans, the addition of AFF Transportation Bonds would permit the accelerated construction of more than $15 billion in infrastructure projects. Should AFF Transportation Bonds be included in the next surface transportation bill, the success enjoyed by Los Angeles can be replicated by cities and transportation agencies across the United States.

Maryland Congressman John Delaney has amassed strong support in the House and Senate for the Partnership to Build America Act (H.R. 2084 and S. 1957). Leadership by Rep. Delaney and Sens. Bennet and Blunt would create an American infrastructure fund that would act like a bond insurer or bank for state and local governments to build transportation, energy, water, communication and educational infrastructure. Financed by $50 billion in private bonds, the AIF could finance $2 trillion worth of infrastructure over 50 years, according to sponsors.

Communities also are developing new approaches to tolling as a way to find new revenue. A regional consortium in Austin experienced initial community resistance but eventually found that congestion pricing and enhancements such as bicycle and pedestrian walkways will increased mobility. The addition of these features and new roadways helped the region find the best ways to reduce congestion and serve the community while supporting the local economy.

All these worthy initiatives will help cities build vital infrastructure that finances economic growth, creates jobs and moves people and goods for vibrant communities.

Building More Resilient Communities

With nearly 1500 mayors, council members, city staff and others coming to DC next week for the Congressional City Conference, it’s a great opportunity to educate our members about federal issues affecting cities and launch lobbying efforts around our 2014 federal priorities.

Among the priorities this year is supporting community resilience. By raising awareness on the issue of climate change, the local impacts, and why and how local governments should think about resilience, NLC aims to spur additional action at both the federal and local levels.

Specifically, NLC is asking Congress and the Administration to:

  • Pass the STRONG Act (Strengthening the Resiliency of our Nation on the Ground), to provide local governments with tools and information to develop and improve local infrastructure and better withstand extreme weather in the short- and long-term.
  • Support the President’s FY15 budget request of $1 billion to address community resilience.
  • Support the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (Shaheen-Portman), which will spur the use of energy efficiency technologies in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors of our economy, while also fostering job creation
  • Help local governments to better understand the effects of climate change and extreme weather on their communities, incorporate these effects into their adaptation and resilience planning, and provide financial and technical assistance for local climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.

Under this last item, NLC will be working with the President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to provide feedback on federal policies and programs to support local efforts on adaptation and resilience.

Climate adaptation and community resilience will be on center stage during the conference. Local officials will be able to connect with and learn from other communities, federal agencies, and others on how to address this important issue.

Building Resilient Communities in the Face of Climate Change
Monday, March 10
10:45 am – 12:15 pm

Learn what is being done at the federal and local levels to prepare and protect communities in the face of climate change and extreme weather events, particularly with regard to critical infrastructure such as water and transportation systems. This session will also focus on gathering input from local elected officials to inform the work of the President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.

“Resilient and Renewable” Leadership Luncheon
Monday, March 10
12:15-1:30 pm

The “Resilient and Renewable” Leadership Luncheon provides an opportunity to celebrate and network with like-minded local officials who are leading the way in creating more resilient communities powered by clean energy. You will hear inspiring stories from mayors and local officials who have made a commitment to resiliency and clean energy and implemented model projects on the ground in their communities. This event is open to Signatories in the Resilient Communities for America campaign and other local elected officials registered for CCC.

Federal Agency Round Robin
Monday, March 10
1:45 – 3:15 pm

Through a series of 20-minutes rotations, participants will be able to engage in small group discussions with Administration officials on various federal programs and opportunities that are available to cities and towns. Administration officials will be available to answer questions about federal resources, tools, grants, and programs of interest to local governments. Topic areas include, among others, Climate Change and Community Resilience; Sustainable Communities; and Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Monday Afternoon General Session
Monday, March 10
3:30 – 5:00 p.m.

Shaun Donovan, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Anthony Foxx, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation and Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will participate in a panel discussion on to share their insights on the President’s Climate Action Plan, rebuilding efforts post Hurricane Sandy, and how their agencies will support innovation and local initiatives on climate change and community resilience. NLC President Chris Coleman, Mayor, Saint Paul, Minnesota will moderate the panel.

We hope you will be able to join us for these workshops and events at CCC. Be sure to stop by the advocacy booth located in the Conference Connection Lounge for information on each of NLC’s 2014 Federal Priorities.

Carolyn Berndt

About the author: Carolyn Berndt is the Principal Associate for Infrastructure and Sustainability on the NLC Federal Advocacy team. She leads NLC’s advocacy, regulatory, and policy efforts on energy and environmental issues, including water infrastructure and financing, air and water quality, climate change, and energy efficiency. Follow Carolyn on Twitter at @BerndtCarolyn.

Investment in Nation’s Infrastructure is Economic Lifeline

President Obama used the backdrop of the historic Union Depot Station in Saint Paul, Minn. to announce another round of federal TIGER grants – the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery – competitive grant program that has provided 270 communities with an opportunity to make strategic multimodal transportation investments since its inception five years ago. The $600 million in TIGER grants and the president’s proposal for a four year transportation authorization program to replace the current MAP-21 which expires this fall. 

As a new intermodal hub for Saint Paul, the station will connect the Central Corridor Light Rail, Amtrak passenger service, local transit and intercity bus services and a bicycle center. The new light rail line and the station already have generated new housing, retail development, new jobs and increased economic growth. Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, NLC’s President, told Congress in December that the federal support for the new rail line has generated more than $1.2 billion worth of investment in new housing and employment opportunities within the 18 station areas along the 11-mile route. Sixteen colleges, university and hospitals within blocks of the new line employ 67,000 people and are working together to strengthen the neighborhoods.

Similar stories in Normal, Ill. and Atlanta, Ga. demonstrate the power of strategic federal transportation investments. City leaders in Normal sought to bring back the city’s downtown but a TIGER grant helped them realize their plan, as Mayor Chris Koos told a Capitol Hill audience this week at an event sponsored by Transportation for America. With a new quarter percent sales tax, a four-percent hotel tax, and a TIF district, the city was able to invest in creating a welcoming place for community members to gather, eat and shop. Private investment followed with new shops and restaurants and plans for additional mixed-use office buildings and condos are being planned.

In Atlanta, Ga., the Atlanta BeltLine is developing a network of public parks, housing, retail and multi-use trails linked to transit along a 22-mile rail corridor. Funded by a Tax Allocation District (TAD), the project covers more than 6,500 acres of the city. Housing, jobs and new businesses continue to be established near the corridor including $400 million in new private real estate development has been invested within a block of the Historic Fourth Ward Park borders, and $775 million in new development has been invested within a half mile of the Eastside Trail. The $25 million federal investment, including an $18 million TIGER grant, continues to reap economic benefits for Atlanta, the region and the nation.

Against the backdrop of federal investment in transportation and its capacity to generate economic benefits, the president offered a new four-year proposal to fund federal transportation investments. Chairman Bill Shuster convened a roundtable to discuss the future of the federal transportation program and how to pay for it. With funding almost depleted, the president is proposing a $302 billion, four year transportation authorization. The current program expires on September 30 and funding from the federal gas tax is projected to run out before then. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp also unveiled a tax reform proposal that includes $126.5 billion to replenish the Highway Trust Fund.

In a statement, Chairman Shuster said, “I am committed to moving forward with fiscally responsible transportation solutions to promote competitiveness and economic growth, reform programs and focus our resources where they are needed most. Chairman Camp and President Obama have presented proposals that I hope will bring increased focus to the challenges facing the Highway Trust Fund and the importance of the federal role in our national transportation system.”

The national transportation network is a lifeline for our nation’s economy. The federal partnership to maintain that investment means jobs and economic growth. Finding a comprehensive funding solution will allow local leaders to make the long-term investments and planning decisions their communities need.