This post is republished from the Coalition for Transportation Choices (CTC). The CTC calls for a 21st century transportation system that enhances our economy and provides all Rhode Islanders with healthy transportation choices. Grow Smart RI is a member of the Coalition.
After demonstrating overwhelming public support for the Transit Investment Act, H7581, at the House Finance Committee on May 9, (see Projo article) CTC members continued their work to build momentum for the Act at a meeting with Speaker Gordon Fox’s Chief Legal Counsel John Flynn on May 16 and at a meeting of the Senate Study Commission on Sustainable Transportation Funding on May 18.
Getting heard in the House
On May 16, CTC Co-Chairs John Flaherty and Jerry Elmer, accompanied by CTC members Abel Collins of the Sierra Club and Lauren Carson of Clean Water Action, met with Speaker Fox’s Chief Legal Counsel John Flynn to discuss the Transit Investment Act.
Flynn indicated that Speaker Fox is keenly aware of the Act, dubbed the O’Grady Bill in the House after the bill’s main sponsor. Flynn had good knowledge of the bill, and had heard reports of advocates’ success at the House Finance Committee hearing last week. CTC will follow up with the Speaker’s office next week.
Making the case before the Senate Study Commission
The Senate Study Commission on Sustainable Transportation Funding met Friday, May 18.
The Commission is co-chaired by state Sens. Louis DiPalma and Juan Pichardo. Among those in attendance were commission members Charles Odimgbe, RIPTA Chief Executive Officer, and John Simmons, Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council (RIPEC) Executive Director.
Jerry Elmer represented the CTC at the meeting and made the case for why the Commission should support the O’Grday Bill. Odimgbe spoke about RIPTA’s achievements over the last 17 months in realizing significant efficiencies and savings.
RIPEC’s John Simmons said that he believed the O’Grady Bill adds to the long-term structural deficit by tapping the General Fund. Elmer refuted that interpretation and pointed out that the O’Grady Bill does precisely what the 2002 RIPEC report suggested by earmarking a portion of auto registration and license fees that currently go into the General Fund for mass transit.
Chairman DiPalma announced that a written Final Report with recommendations would be available for the next Study Commission meeting on June 1st at 9:30 AM.