Lost in the clamor about last weekend’s federal government shutdown is a potential loss of $75 million in federal funding for the Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) bus line project.
President Trump included the funding in the FY2018 budget that was submitted to Congress last March and approved by the House of Representatives in September. However, the Senate has not approved the budget. Two of Martin Heinrich’s committees, Defense and Interior, are holding up the approval.
The government shutdown is over – at least for the next three weeks. But until and unless a budget is passed, Albuquerque’s ART funds remain at risk. Congress could forgo the FY2018 budget altogether, operating on continuing resolutions through FY2018. If that happens, New Mexico’s Senators will need to petition the Trump Administration to include the $75 million in the FY2019 budget – after they torpedoed FY2018 budget.
This calls to mind another mass transit project: Rail Runner. Gov. Richardson’s administration promised the federal government would fund a majority of the cost. But it didn’t. New Mexico was stuck with the entire $500 million bill. Now we have two balloon payments of $112 million each due in the next 10 years. We don’t need to be stuck holding the bag for another $75 million.
Call Senators Udall and Heinrich, and tell them to put New Mexico first. Tell them to pass the FY2018 Budget, so this time, Albuquerque receives the funds it was promised.