US Rep. Davis Highlights Support For Mass Transit

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis rides a C-U Mass Transit bus with CUMTD managing director Karl Gnadt.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (right) rides a C-U Mass Transit bus with CUMTD managing director Karl Gnadt.

Jim Meadows / Illinois Public Media

Congressman Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) has been holding news conferences with local transit officials in central Illinois this week, to highlight his work for mass transit.

Davis sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and worked on the FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act, a long-delayed highway funding bill that passed Congress late last year. The bill ensures a federal funding process for mass transit and other transportation projects for five years.

At a news conference Wednesday with Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District officials on the University of Illinois campus, Davis noted that the FAST Act provides a greater share of transportation funding to local communities, including mass transit districts.

Davis says he hopes to channel more funding to local transportation projects through legislation he introduced (The Innovation in Surface Transportation Act, HR 1393) that would move the competitive grant process from Washington to review panels working on a state or regional level. The Republican says that would put decision-making in the hands of people with more immediate knowledge of local communities.  The bill was introduced in 2014 and against in 2015, bus has not moved out of committee. Davis says if there’s no action this year, he’ll introduce it again in the next Congress.

For the year ahead, Davis says he wants to work on reform the way the federal government raises money for transportation projects. The Taylorville Republican says the federal motor fuel tax needs to be replaced by a “portfolio” of multiple funding sources. Davis said there needs to be a national discussion on what that portfolio should include.

“There are some that advocate for a national registration fee for electric vehicles,” said Davis. “There are some that advocate for allowing increased energy exploration and taking a portion of the revenues generated for that, to go towards transportation, and then tax reform issues that can be dedicated towards transportation. “

Davis disagrees with calls to raise the current federal gas and diesel taxes, which have been unchanged since the 1990s. He says that wouldn’t work, as long as the government keeps pressuring automakers to improve fuel efficiency.

Davis is running for a third term representing Illinois’ 13th Congressional District against Democrat Mark Wicklund of Decatur.

Story source: WILL