U.S. Rep. Pete
Visclosky, D-1st, testified today before the House Budget Committee on his
priorities for Indiana’s 1st Congressional District for Fiscal Year 2018.
Excerpts from his
“I am very aware of
the challenges involved in developing a budget blueprint that balances
responsible fiscal policies with the need to make investments to support a
strong economy and strengthen our national security. This task is made no
less difficult by the announcement this week that the President will be
submitting a budget request that proposes a $54 billion cut to domestic
programs. . . .
“I am here today on
behalf of my constituents in Northwest Indiana and our nation to advocate
for a Fiscal Year 2018 budget that does not allow for significant reductions
in federal funding for investments in infrastructure projects, and
particularly public transit projects. Any such reductions would ultimately
be counterproductive, undermining the job creation, economic development,
and the demonstrated return on investment these transformational
infrastructure projects provide for communities nationwide.
transportation has seen an increasing demand in recent years with Americans
demonstrating a strong desire to live and work in walkable communities that
offer transportation choices. . . . This reflects a recognition of the
personal benefits public transit affords, including shorter commutes, saved
money on costs associated with automobiles, and easier access to job
opportunities. The perceived value of these benefits is reflected in
increased property values near transit stations. . . .
transit provides significant economic growth for surrounding communities.
(The American Public Transportation Association) estimates that every $1
invested in public transportation generates approximately $4 in economic
returns. . . .
benefits, my district has been adamantly supporting the expansion and
recapitalization of the commuter train system in Northwest Indiana, known as
the South Shore Rail Line.
“I have always
believed that Northwest Indiana is the best place in the world to live,
work, visit, and raise a family. Unfortunately, families have not been
moving to or staying in Northwest Indiana. From 1970 to 2015, the number of
school age children in Northwest Indiana has dropped by over 74,000
children. Further, the population of Lake County, Indiana, has decreased by
10 percent, and the median income, adjusted for inflation, has decreased by
“The opposite is
true for Lake County, Ill. Both Lake Counties are on Lake Michigan and
adjacent to Chicago. Yet in Illinois, the population of Lake County has
increased by 83.9 percent, and the median income, adjusted for inflation,
has increased by 17.7 percent.
“Part of the reason
for this discrepancy is that young people want to be a part of the economic
vibrancy of Chicago, but do not want to drive the commute from Northwest
Indiana. In Illinois, there are over 400 miles of commuter rail that emanate
from the Chicago Loop. In Indiana, there are barely 35 miles.
“Investing in the
South Shore Rail Line will connect my constituents to Chicago’s $500 billion
economy and nearly four million jobs. It will also allow us to begin to draw
Chicago’s economic vibrancy to our region as we attract not only new
residents, but also new businesses that are seeking locations that offer
quality educational, recreational, and transportation opportunities for
their employees and their families.
these economic opportunities, 16 communities in Indiana’s 1st Congressional
District have come together to dedicate a portion of their local economic
development tax revenue towards the expansion of the South Shore Rail Line
in Northwest Indiana. Vice-President Pence, in his role as Governor of
Indiana, signed legislation into law in 2015 providing for dedicated state
funding to support this endeavor. These nonfederal dollars will match every
federal dollar provided, multiplying the positive effects of the federal
investment before we even begin to enumerate the economic development
benefits to the region.
“I am proud of the
progress that our region has made to invest in our commuter rail system. But
the successful extension and recapitalization of the South Shore Rail Line
and associated economic benefits in Northwest Indiana, along with other
projects in communities throughout our country, depend on the availability
of strong federal funding levels to support transit projects. I encourage
you to keep these real world examples in mind as you continue to craft a
fiscal blueprint for the upcoming Fiscal Year.”