Elections are over...now what?

Posted on November 5, 2010 by Alex Roman - Also by this author

Now that the elections are over, we can all collectively exhale and begin to assess what may actually happen as opposed to what could happen. My meaning is that now that we're done hearing about the worst case scenarios, we can open our eyes and embrace the realities that the elections have brought.

According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), voters in 14 states approved 22 measures out of 30 state and local public transportation-related ballot initiatives, authorizing nearly $500 million over the next five years. That's good news, and the support for public transportation continues the trend that we've seen over the last few elections. This year alone, public transportation-related ballot measures had a whopping 77 percent or, 43 out of 56, success rate for a total of more than $1 billion.

Bad news comes in other areas, however, such as in Wisconsin where incoming Governor Scott Walker, who campaigned on stopping the area's $810 million Amtrak Hiawatha line extension, will seemingly get his way. There is also the matter of the Republican party gaining majority of the House of Representatives, while Democrat control of the house will shrink, though, by how much is yet to be determined, with some races still too close to call.

What the switch in the House and Senate means is that it may actually become tougher for public transportation to continue to secure federal funds, with the likelihood of reauthorization impossible, at least in my novice opinion. One possibly positive thing is that during the so-called lame duck session, which is set to commence November 15, SAFTEA-LU will probably be extended yet again.

My biggest concern, however, is how quickly the tide may turn in terms of the favorable treatment public transportation has received by the feds over the last two years. With the Obama Administration holding on to a handful of accomplishments, including healthcare and a plan to increase the presence and stature of public transportation, it is clear, at least in the words of the new likely Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), that the Republicans are set to go after the progress that has been made to continue to paint Obama as a weak President with wayward goals.

So, while public transportation measures continue to win funding at the state and local level, how do you think the tug-of-war on Capitol Hill will impact its future?



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