MAP-21 New performance measures - Why Illinois should implement a merit-based funding approach to state transportation investments now
By Chrissy Mancini Nichols
Mar 20, 2013
This post first appeared at metroplanning.org
Did you know: Current Illinois state law does not require transportation spending to be guided by broad based goals or performance measures.
For the first time ever, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), the current federal transportation authorization, requires the establishment of national goals and performance measures in planning for transportation investments. It’s the first step toward creating a truly performance based budgeting process for prioritizing how the U.S. invests in transportation. This approach will provide taxpayers with the best return on their investment, improve national global competitiveness, and communities' livability.
To learn more about MAP-21’s national goals, performance measures, and how states and metropolitan planning organizations will target measures, check out MAP-21 changes how the U.S. invests in transportation by requiring performance measures.
What’s next for the U.S. and Illinois?
MAP-21 takes a big step toward creating a U.S. transportation system focused on targeted investments instead of spending. While the law outlines a national vision for our transportation system, it falls short of the MPC proposal to use performance based budgeting to prioritize projects, include more robust economic and congestion relief performance metrics, and tie federal funding allocations to performance outcomes.
However, because the Highway Trust Fund that funds the U.S. transportation system is bankrupt and has required $50 billion in bailouts from the General Fund over the past five years, many in Congress are calling for even stronger criteria in the next federal authorization. States with a prioritization process in place will be at a significant advantage for leveraging future federal dollars, one reason MPC strongly believes Illinois should implement a performance-based funding approach to state transportation investments now. While MAP-21 will require the Ill. Dept. of Transportation to take some steps to evaluate progress, current Illinois state law does not require transportation spending to be guided by broad-based goals, performance measures to track progress on economic development, moving more people rather than cars, or an objective method of ranking projects according to merit that will likely be part of the next federal transportation law. Other states such as Minnesota, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania already use this process to prioritize transportation investments.
MPC supports Illinois HB 1549 (Nekritz D-57), which would establish a timeline for implementing merit-based budgeting for all potential transportation investments in Illinois. A performance based process for prioritizing projects will provide taxpayers with the best return on their investment, and improve Illinois’ global competitiveness, as well as community livability and sustainability. A statewide, data-rich, outcomes-based approach to prioritizing infrastructure investments also would help restore voter trust and mark a new era of transparency. Illinois simply cannot afford to fund projects that do little to relieve congestion, spur economic development, or improve safety on the roads and rails. Strategically investing precious tax dollars rather than spending them will improve quality of life, clean the air, and generate economic returns. If Illinois is perceived as wasting its federal share on insignificant projects, while neighboring states can show a high return, we stand to lose out on federal transportation dollars in the future.