I wish our congressional delegation would be far more upfront with the fact that it is not likely we are going to see any money from the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) for the ART Bus project.
Trump’s proposed 2018 federal budget, which was released March 16, 2017, does not contain the $69 million Federal Transit Administration grant the mayor and his staff have said repeatedly is coming.
Over 20% of the ART bus project is complete and construction should be finished sometime October.
The Albuquerque City Council refused to put the project on the ballot and voted to fund the construction without having the money from the Federal government.
U. S. House and Senate conference committees have recommended a $20 million cut in Albuquerque’s Grant under the 2017 Obama budget and funding has not been approved.
Officials at the FTA said that if ART does not appear on the current list of “fully funded” projects, it’s won’t get any more federal money, and Albuquerque’s ART Project does not appear on the list of “fully funded” projects.
Yet Mayor Berry still thinks all the federal money will be forthcoming.
Berry claims the plans are to complete the ART Bus project by the end of the year and then to get reimbursed with the approval of the $69 million dollar FTA grant by Congress.
Mayor Berry says he has great confidence in our congressional delegation to get the federal funding for the project.
Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham comments to Channel 4 were not very reassuring about the ART Bus project funding when she said “We do not want the city to be in a situation that passes along its projects holes right or budget deficit to consumers … We’re going to have to figure it out, but until I get that budget in front of me with the details, I can’t really tell you exactly what’s going to hold and what isn’t … I don’t see any indication we’re trying to remove that infrastructure projects from their current commitments. … [The passage of the omnibus funding bill will] affirm all of those expenditures in this current fiscal year [and] in that context, I’m not as worried that the president’s budget for FY18 doesn’t specifically have that funding.”
(See “Congressional delegation address questions about ART” http://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/congressional-delegation-address-questions-albuquerque-rapid-transit-project-art-michelle-lujan-grisham-ben-ray-lujan-steve-pearce/4450833/?cat=500)
Representative Steve Pierce likewise was not so reassuring about the ART Bus project funding when he said to Channel 4 “The president’s budget is just the beginning point … So we’ll actually go to work in the house and we’ll create the real budget, so you can just take that as an advisory position from the President.”
Rep. Ben Ray Lujan said “There’s no certainty with what this administration will do or how the Republican congress will respond.”
Now that Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham is running for Governor, why should she even lift a finger or bother to help bail out Republican Mayor Berry on the ART bus project other than to make sure City voters do not have to pay for Berry’s mistake.
Berry just may be Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Republican opponent for Governor and she will need to remind voters how Mayor Berry crammed the ART bus project down our throats without a public vote to benefit all his construction buddies who no doubt will be contributing to Berry’s Governor’s race.
Why should Republican Congressman Steve Pearce lift a finger to help Republican Mayor Berry when they too may be facing off for the Republican nomination for Governor.
Pearce openly supported President Donald Trump, while Mayor Berry did not even bother to attend the Trump rallies in Albuquerque.
The City Council voted to spend the federal funding for the project before it has been received and the Berry City budget submitted for the 2017-2018 fiscal year starting July 1 has no money set aside in reserves in the event the federal funding is not approved by Congress.
I really do hope Berry runs for Governor so he can be held accountable for the ART Bus project and the destruction of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD).