by Stacey Levitt
Last Tuesday, as the House and Senate Conference Committee began work crafting a transportation reauthorization bill, leaders of NLC's Asian Pacific American Municipal Officials (APAMO) group took to Capitol Hill to echo NLC's call for Congress to stop the quick fixes and finally pass a comprehensive, long-term program that rebuilds America's roads and bridges, modernizes transit systems, and creates or saves good-paying jobs.
The day of advocacy was especially timely, with many on Capitol Hill following the action surrounding transportation authorization and talking of impending increases in student loan interest rates that will place education and job training opportunities farther out of reach for many Americans. That same day, the President released his "to-do list" for Congress - actions intended to create jobs and grow the nation's economy.
Armed with their own legislative checklist, three APAMO representatives, each a California city leader - Evan Low, Campbell vice mayor and the group's president; Gilbert Wong, Cupertino council member and APAMO immediate past president; and Madison Nguyen, San Jose vice mayor and APAMO board member - met with several members of Congress from the Golden State and called on them to support federal investments in cities and towns that will help ensure communities and the country move forward.
In meetings with Reps. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) and Pete Stark (D-Calif.), and staff for Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Mike Honda (D-Calif.), the APAMO officials urged their congressional delegation to forego more short-term extensions and support a multi-year transportation program that respects local authority and promotes sustainable outcomes.
The group also advocated for passage of legislation to encourage marketplace fairness by granting local governments the ability to collect taxes already owed through internet sales; reauthorization of both the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Workforce Investment Act, two critical pieces of legislation that support a trained, competitive workforce necessary for economic growth; and funding for federal programs such as the Community Development Block Grant that allow cities and towns to invest in local economic development and create jobs.
"Our meetings with representatives of the Silicon Valley Congressional delegation were helpful in reminding them of the importance of local government. Funding and support for local transportation and infrastructure projects, as well as programs like CDBG and COPS, are critical for our communities. Local officials need to ensure that Washington understands our needs," Low said.
"I commend the NLC staff for their hardwork and diligent efforts and their willingness to accommodate everything we needed to do to make our trip successful. I have been to Washington, D.C., many times and this was by far the most effective and successful trip of all," added Nguyen.