Lautenberg, Menendez: Bush Budget Undermines NJ Transportation Needs

Lautenberg, Menendez: Bush Budget Undermines NJ Transportation Needs

NJ Senators Vow to Fight for New Jersey's Travelers, Commuters

Washington - Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today said President Bush's Fiscal Year 2009 budget proposal makes drastic cuts in transportation funding that will severely impact New Jersey's railways, highways and skyways. The two Senators, who are both members of the Senate Budget Committee, have vowed to fight the proposed cuts to protect New Jersey's transportation network.

"President Bush's transportation budget takes New Jersey down the wrong path," said Menendez. "Instead of making a significant investment in our region to repair our bridges, decongest our roadways and ultimately make traveling easier, this budget jeopardizes and undermines these priorities. I'll continue to push for making major new investments in our state's public transportation infrastructure, such as the Liberty Corridor, in order not only to make traveling and commuting easier, but also to spur economic growth and reduce our environmental footprint."

"At a time when we need investment in our railways, highways and skyways, the President's budget shortchanges Amtrak and weakens our entire transportation system," Sen. Lautenberg said. "We need resources to repair our crumbling roads and bridges, better manage air traffic and expand transit and passenger rail, which travelers continue to use in record numbers. If we want to improve energy efficiency, reduce travel delays and grow our economy, we must invest in our transportation infrastructure now."

President Bush's proposed budget cuts funding for critical transportation needs, as detailed below.

Despite crumbling infrastructure across the nation, an overburdened air travel system, and transit systems that are grossly underfunded, the Bush budget delays significant improvements which are necessary to keep pace with the region's economy. It cuts funding for our nation's roads and bridges, and does little to address the growing airline delays.

· Ignoring Highway/Bridge Infrastructure Needs. Less than one year after the deadly Minneapolis I-35W Bridge collapse, President Bush has proposed cuts in highway/bridge spending that are $800 million below Congressionally-authorized levels. This means New Jersey would receive almost $17 million less, postponing much-needed safety improvements to aging bridges and congested roadways.

· Putting an End to Amtrak. President Bush has proposed cutting Amtrak funding by $525 million, a cut of nearly 40 percent. This would force a shutdown of our national passenger railroad system and the Northeast Corridor. This would also jeopardize NJ Transit rail operations along this corridor, which shuttles over 100,000 New Jersey commuters to work and back each day. Last year, the Senate passed Amtrak reauthorization legislation sponsored by Sen. Lautenberg which would fully fund Amtrak's operating and capital needs.

· Hurting Commuters. President Bush's budget would cut funding for mass transit programs by $203 million below Congressionally-authorized levels in FY 2009. This cut could impact major transit projects in the region, including funding construction of a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River. This tunnel is needed to ensure our economy does not choke-current tunnels are at capacity, with trains rushing through them every two-and-a-half minutes at rush hour.

· Leaving Our Air Travelers Stuck at the Gate. This budget would cut funding for our nation's airports and runways by over 20 percent, a loss of $765 million for our airport infrastructure. At a time of record travel, as well as record flight delays, these funds could be used to modernize airports and increase capacity. This funding is crucial to New Jersey, which is home to Newark Liberty International Airport, one of the most delayed airports in the nation.

· Increases Tax on Airline Travelers. While the Bush budget provides a $515 billion increase for the Pentagon, it also proposes a multi-year tax increase on airline travelers. Under the Bush budget, airline passengers would pay 20 percent higher security fees, or up to $3.00 each time they board a plane (up to $6.00 per flight). These taxes would be used to pay for airport terminal renovations to accommodate baggage screening equipment.

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