Smart Growth Development

Obama's $50 Billion Infrastructure Job Program Could Increase Impact with Focus on Funding Local Transit

President Obama this week announced a proposed $50 billion initiative to upgrade America's transportation infrastructure. While this infrastructure spending is desperately needed, and the focus on upgrading the nation's rail system will have broad economic impacts, the immediate job creation impact could be increased through greater support for local transit projects as well, as a new report by the Transportation Equity Network emphasizes.

OR: Appeals Court Ruling May Snuff Out Property Rights Claim

A federal appeals court may have doused a legal theory that threatened to blow up the uneasy truce on Oregon's land-use battlefield. Acting on a low-profile Jackson County case, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that property development rights granted under 2004's Measure 37 aren't legal contracts.

Reducing Military Spending to Spur Economic Growth at Home

The Senate struggled to approve a $15 billion jobs bill and has yet to enact additional fiscal relief for the states, but lawmakers continue to approve trillions of dollars for wars and defense appropriations.  In fact, ignoring the almost $1 trillion spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, military spending has grown 41 percent since 1998.  If progressive leaders intend to reduce long-term deficits and ensure a robust economic recovery, cutting inefficient and costly areas of the defense budget should be a top priority.

Eye on the Right: Businesses Split over Climate Change

The debate over clean energy is ripping open divisions in conservative business lobbies.  Debate on federal climate change legislation has led an increasing number of businesses to leave the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and other business associations because of those organizations' stances against recognizing the scientific validity of climate change. The revolt has been growing ever since a senior Chamber official called for a "Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century" to evaluate evidence of global warming.

Transportation Infrastructure Fueled by Gas Tax Increases

One of the biggest topics of conversation in Massachusetts these days is the proposed additional 19 cent gas tax which would go toward roads, bridges, regional transit authorities and public transit improvements throughout the state. More than half of state and local bridges of 20 feet or longer are structurally deficient, while 82 percent of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority's (MBTA) rapid transit rail cars are in poor or marginal condition, according to a report by TRIP. Furthermore, a 2007 report by the Massachusetts Transportation Finance Commission found that “the condition of our roads, bridges and transit systems are all in broad decline”¦we have no money for transit or highway enhancements or expansions without further sacrificing our existing systems and exacerbating our problems.”