Yesterday I testified in support of HB 2594, which would restore funding for the Local Transportation Assistance Fund, or LTAF, which was a vital source of funding for communities across the state to have transit programs.
In recent years, lawmakers used a number of gimmicks to close the gaps in the state budget. Unfortunately, in many instances, these "fixes" to the state's budget woes only passed the problem along to other levels of government. Among these gimmicks were fund transfers that left agencies or local governments without the money they relied upon to operate certain programs. In 2010, the LTAF monies intended for local government public transportation were swept into the state's general fund. That forced many cities and towns across the state to make the difficult decision of reducing or cutting transit services.
The loss of the LTAF funding came at an especially critical time for transit in the region. At the time this occurred, transit budgets were already stretched due to loss of sales tax revenues. A lack of existing public transportation options, coupled with our explosive strong population growth, has resulted in more traffic congestion, increased air pollution caused by cars, and ever more threats to public health and our environment.
We know that it's essential for Arizona to expand good public transportation options. More public transit will improve our quality of life, reduce traffic congestion on our roads, and help keep our air free from pollution. It also will give those without the ability to drive (such as the elderly and people with disabilities) and those who cannot afford a car more transportation options.
We're urging lawmakers to pass HB2594 to restore LTAF funding.