If conservatives who live in fire country want to underfund their fire departments, well, that’s stupid, but one of the joys of a federalist system. But could they please stop fucking with those of us who actually want stuff to work? Because the recent transportation bill seems designed to screw over urban areas (boldface mine):
•Dedicated funding for repairing infrastructure, as opposed to building new roads, was eliminated.
•Currently, there are several programs for improving walking and biking safety, such as the Transportation Enhancements program, the Recreational Trails program and Safe Routes to School. The Senate would have put those under one new program. The final bill will do the same, but will cut total funding for all of them by one-third. And while cities were hoping to receive more money directly — instead of having to beg often retrograde and rurally biased state departments of transportation for the funding — the states will now have even more flexibility on how or whether to use it.
•At a time when mass transit use is increasing, transit agencies have been cutting services and raising fares because of the fiscal crisis in state and local governments. Larger transit systems are not allowed to use federal dollars for operating costs, but only for capital investments. The Senate bill would have allowed them, on an emergency basis, to use some of the money to keep operations going. The final bill does not include this sensible provision.
•In a gratuitous snub to people who rely on mass transit, tax deductibility for transit expenses is being set at half the maximum for parking. For a while, both maxed out at $240 per month. Now they will be $125 for transit and still $240 for parking.
The bill makes no space for inter-city rail projects.
Recently, Krugman was making the argument that the U.S. was different than the EU in that different regions readily subsidized each other in times of need (e.g., the savings and loan bailout which primarily aided Texas, or the wealth transfers to Florida after the housing market collapse). So how about helping out urban areas?