5.13.2020


Congress must act to relieve state DOT budget shortfalls!
 

Please contact your congressional representative ASAP and ask them to give greater discretion for states and municipalities to use recovery funding

The shortfall has been all over the news during the past several days. MaineDOT stands to lose $124 million in fuel tax and other revenues over the next 18 months due to the coronavirus outbreak. If Congress does not act to free up relief funds that have been sent to states, and to send more money to state DOTs, MaineDOT will have to cut millions of dollars in projects from its 2020 Work Plan. The US Senate is in Washington, and the US House is expected to return Friday to vote on additional relief.

We hope that a recent bill sponsored by Maine’s Senator Angus King will be passed. It is titled the Corona Virus Relief Fund Flexibility Act, and the language of the bill is simple. ( You can read it online here .) It would unlock states’ ability to apply relief funds already allocated by Congress to cover funding shortfalls that have resulted from this public health emergency. Originally, there was $150 billion in the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act funding that state and local governments could have used for transportation funding, but state and local needs were so much greater than anticipated during the crisis. This act would open up restrictions on the funding.
 
Critical funding needed
The need is substantial and critical. AASHTO and other organizations are calling for at least $50 billion to be set aside to cover state DOT losses due to decreases in fuel tax receipts. The country currently has a backlog of 231,000 bridges in need of reconstruction or repair. Because of declining gas tax revenues in recent years, states already have billions of dollars in needed safety improvements and road maintenance that have not been completed due to lack of funding. Those threats to public safety and economic prosperity will only increase if help is not sent to state DOTs. Maine was recently ranked 7 th  worst in the country in our percentage of structurally deficient bridges.

The HEROES Act
There are other plans to provide relief for state DOTs – including one proposal on the table that calls for an additional $158 billion to replace lost transportation revenues at the state level. There also has been discussion to provide additional relief to different sectors within the nation’s transportation network.

Another bill on the table, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act – HEROES ACT – would allocate $540 billion to state and local governments and give them discretion to use those funds to shore up essential services including transportation.

Why states and municipalities need this funding
If Congress does not step in and free up funding for the state DOTs, the fallout will be devastating for the economy.

In Maine, it is estimated it will affect 13,800 private and public sector jobs  – jobs that Governor Janet Mills has determined are essential to keeping Maine’s economy moving and Maine’s people safe. Even before this crisis, MaineDOT’s 2020 Work Plan was lean. If the department is forced to cut its project list, every corner of the state will be affected. It has the potential to impact hundreds of capital projects throughout Maine in:
  • bridge reconstruction and rehabilitation
  • highway reconstruction and rehabilitation
  • highway pavement preservation
  • light capital paving
  • and multimodal projects that support ports, ferries, passenger rail, freight rail, aviation and other modes

Aviation has been especially hard hit , and the airport industry is requesting $13 billion in additional aid money to deal with the COVID-19 crisis over and above the $10 billion received in the CARES Act which has already been distributed to airports. The request also addresses the inequities in the original CARES Act distribution formula. 

Public transit and the motorcoach industry have also been profoundly impacted .  The original CARES Act provided $25 billion in funding for transit, but advocates have estimated that more than $24 billion is needed to aid these struggling providers who provide transportation options for the most vulnerable of our population. 

Please reach out to Maine’s leaders today!
Our economy needs this!
Please contact Maine’s Congressional delegation and ask them to pass this critical fix that will provide jobs to Maine workers and keep our roads safe. 

  • Free up existing CARES Act funding to help states replace fuel tax revenues lost due to the economic shutdown and social distancing.

  •  Urge Congress to provide $50 billion in new relief funding so state DOTs can cover lost revenues and continue to maintain public roads and bridges that are the lifeblood of our urban and rural communities.

  • Pass additional relief legislation that addresses the significant and long-term impacts to state and local economies from the coronavirus outbreak. Give states flexibility to use it for most critical needs.

  • Include funding to help cities and states maintain and support critical public transportation and passenger and freight services, including aviation, ports/ferries, rail, transit and motor coach industry.
 
Maine's Congressional Delegation

U.S. Senator Susan Collins
  • E-mail: https://www.collins.senate.gov/contact
  • Augusta: 207-622-8414 / fax 207-622-5884
  • Bangor: 207-945-0417 / fax 207-990-4604
  • Biddeford: 207-283-1101 / fax 207-283-4054
  • Caribou: 207-493-7873 / fax 207-493-7810
  • Lewiston: 207-784-6969 / fax 207-782-6475
  • Portland: 207-780-3575 / fax 207-828-0380
  • Washington, DC: 202-224-2523 / fax 202-224-2693
 
U.S. Senator Angus King
  • E-mail: https://www.king.senate.gov/contact
  • Toll-free: 800-432-1599
  • Augusta: 207-622-8292 / fax 207-621-0286
  • Bangor: 207-945-8000 / fax 207-945-5010
  • Biddeford: 207-352-5216 / fax 207-282-1009
  • Presque Isle: 207-764-5124 / fax 207-764-6420
  • Washington, DC: 202-224-5344 / fax 202-224-1946      
 
U.S. Representative Jared Golden
 
U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree
  • E-mail: rep.pingree@mail.house.gov
  • Portland: 207-774-5019 or 888-862-6500 / fax 207-871-0720
  • Waterville: 207-873-5713/ fax 207-873-5717
  • Washington, DC: 202-225-6116 / fax 202-225-5590

The MBTA board of directors appreciates your support and willingness to act on this issue. The passage of funding for transportation will be critical for Maine's recovery!

I hope you and your family and co-workers continue to be safe and healthy during this crisis. Thank you so much for your support and advocacy!

Maria


For more information, contact Maria@mbtaonline.org ,
(207-622-0526) or (207-592-0227).
MBTA E-Alerts are a free service provided by the Maine Better Transportation Association. To find out more about the MBTA, visit  mbtaonline.org