MMA statement calls on Congress to act on major priorities to aid municipalities and invest in economic recovery

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The following statement was unanimously issued today by the MMA Board of Directors.

With the national economy balanced on a razor’s edge between recovery and a return to recession, it is imperative that the United States Congress and the President immediately act on key priorities to invest in our economic renewal. Now more than ever, our federal leaders must recognize that our economy will not improve until there is a stronger and more powerful partnership between the federal government and our cities and towns. The Massachusetts Municipal Association calls on all members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to immediately enact two major priorities to invest in communities and get our economy back on track.

First, Congress should pass the American Jobs Act presented by President Barack Obama, especially those provisions that provide essential funds and resources for the economic development of our cities, towns and states, and the provision of key services to our residents. These programs include $30 billion to retain and hire teachers in local budgets; $5 billion to retain and hire first responders in local budgets; $50 billion in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants (TIGER) and Transportation Infrastructure and Innovation Act funds (TIFIA) to leverage essential construction and infrastructure improvements; $30 billion for school building modifications across the country; $15 billion for Project Rebuild; $5 billion for Pathways Back to Work; and $10 billion for a national infrastructure bank, a proposal first made by Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.

Second, Congress should immediately reauthorize the federal surface transportation funding program to repair, maintain and build highways, bridges and transit systems, called SAFETEA-LU, at current spending levels for at least two years, including reauthorization of the existing federal fuels taxes to pay for these infrastructure investments. This is an urgent matter because the current program will expire on September 30. If Congress fails to reauthorize the program at current levels, Massachusetts will face the loss of $580 million a year in annual transportation funding. Further, the House of Representatives should reject the proposal by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair John Mica to cut federal highway funding by 34 percent, a cut that would cost our state $216.3 million a year. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that a reduction of that magnitude would eliminate 7,522 jobs in Massachusetts alone. This program must be fully funded to keep our transportation system moving, keep construction workers on the job, and build our local economy.

We ask our partners in the federal government to act swiftly and certainly to put people back to work with the American Jobs Act and to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure with the reauthorization of our federal transportation programs. This is a time for partnership, not partisanship, and we ask all members of the House of Representatives and Senate to join municipal leaders in passing these priorities to invest in our neighborhoods and communities. Our economy depends on it.