2:40 p.m. “Transportation and Climate Change: Promoting Sustainable Growth and Prosperity?” is the final panel today at the Humphrey Institute’s series of forums entitled, America’s Future: Conversations about Politics and Policy during the 2008 Republican National Convention. The discussion is moderated by Ray Suarez (Senior Correspondent, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer). The panelists are:
* Senator Slade Gorton (Former Senator, State of Washington)
* U.S. Representative John L. Mica (R-FL) (Ranking Republican Leader on the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastrcture Committee)
* Chris Coleman (Mayor, City of Saint Paul)
* George W. Bilicic, Jr. (Managing Director and Head of Infrastructure, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.)
* Bruce Katz (Vice President and Director, Metropolitan Policy Program, Brookings Institution)
* Tom Darden (CEO, Cherokee Investment Partners)
2:42 p.m. Katz says our transportation system as a nation is broken, and that we need to revisit the vision and priority it was given in the 1950s.
2:47 p.m. Senator Gorton says one of the problems with effectuating change in transportation policy today is that we do not done a good job of defining and measuring our policy objectives and outputs.
2:50 p.m. Many panelists agree that this conversation about transportation would not have occurred during Democratic and Republican National Conventions in the past. Transportation’s relationship to environmental (e.g. climate change) and energy needs (e.g. cost of gasoline, dependence on foreign oil) has heightened its importance on the policy agenda.
2:55 p.m. Congressman Mica agrees that our transportation system is broken, half-joking he was late to the panel because “it is hell getting around the Twin Cities” (and cities across the country, he adds). Mica says we need a national strategic transportaion plan – it needs to be defined. The financing system (based on gasoline taxes) is also broken.
3:01 p.m. Mayor Coleman is skeptical about the role of private markets into meeting the transportation needs of our communities. Senator Gorton agrees, because, for example, mass transit is heavily subsidized and there is no way the private sector would bid on, say, a light rail system which charges a fare of just $1.50.
3:18p.m. Darden says the last group you want to ask when formulating transportation policy is the engineers, who want to fix every problem – not seeing the forest through the trees. Suarez says the last group you want to ask is actually the public, who do not want to pay more taxes, tolls etc.
3:28 p.m. Some panelists – Darden and Bilicic – believe the public will is there to make important transportation policy changes, because they are away of its impact on the global economy as well on quality of life issues.