Debating the Local-Federal Transit Funding Mix

Devolution—or the end of federal funding for local or regional transit projects—is back on the table, thanks to the Trump Administration. Articles in two prominent media outlets debate the idea.
April 4, 2017, 2pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Jeff Wood takes to the Overhead Wire blog to push back on recent political clamoring for the end of federal funding for transit investments at the local level—a policy known to many wonks as devolution.

The debate has erupted after news that the Trump Administration's draft budget would completely cut federal contributions to the TIGER competitive grant program and all transit capital investment. Meanwhile, the federal government would continue to fund highway projects.

That news led Jeffrey Dorfman, an economics professor at the University of Georgia, to write an op-ed for Forbes describing Trump's proposed budget as a "great start on de-federalizing local spending." Dorfman's central premise: that local governments and municipalities don't have a good argument to support federal funding for local projects such as transit.

Wood responds to specific points in Dorfman's argument, even finding a few points where they agree, but "for different reasons." Wood works especially to debunk Dorfman's assumption that highway projects all serve the national interest.

Hat tip to Angie Schmitt for sharing the Overhead Wire article, as well as the news about the Trump Administration's budget plans.

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Published on Monday, April 3, 2017 in The Overhead Wire
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