We were asked to forward the following note from Ed Barsotti, Executive Director of the League of Illinois Bicyclists to members of our bicycle club.
From: "Ed Barsotti" firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Bike club alert - save IL bike trail funding!
Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2007 17:41:54 +0000
Dear Illinois bike club members,
Your help is needed NOW in saving $5-10M bike trail dollars in Illinois ! Please leave a quick message with the Governors office (http://www.illinois.gov/gov/contactthegovernor.cfm or 217-782-0244 or 312-814-2121) .
- Im a bicyclist from _[town]__ Illinois , and bike trails are important to me.
- In the past four years, IDOT has dramatically cut federal money for building bike trails.
- Please stop IDOTs practice of unfairly high rescissions to the Enhancements program. Make cuts more proportionally to what Congress authorized.
- Please move forward with Enhancements grants in 2007 with half the money going to bike trails.
Further info is available at our press release: http://www.bikelib.org/media/release011. pdf Thanks your two minutes of time could help make the difference!
League of Illinois Bicyclists
2550 Cheshire Dr.
Aurora, IL 60504
In response to the question:
So, what’s this all about? If congress authorizes money for bike trails, how can the state divert the funds for other purposes?the answer was:
IDOT's rescission policy is discussed in this document from the agenda of The Chicago Area Transportation Study: Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force.Each state's DOT is in charge of administering federal transportation money.
Part of that money goes to IDOT to maintain federal roads (US Highways, Interstates). Part goes to IDOT for state roads. Part goes to local projects.
Here's the money flow:
1) States collect the federal gas tax and send it to Washington.
2) Every 5-6 years, Congress authorizes how that money should be spent (what categories - for example, roughly 2.5% goes to the Enhancements category).
3) Each year, the feds must actually send the states the money they promised in the multi-year authorization bill. That's called appropriation.
4) In recent years, the feds decided not to send the states the full amount, ordering them to return some of its "spending authority". That's called rescission.
5) The feds have given states flexibility in making up this difference, but it has to come from authorized money that is not yet under contract. Active construction contracts must be honored. But authorized money not yet under contract ("unobligated") can be given back.
One of the problems is that IDOT is allowing unobligated Enhancements money to build up, thus making it a bigger target for rescissions than it should be.
I suspect other states have similar funds at risk.