In the storm of sequestration talks here in Washington, DC, I often find myself asking if there is hope for bipartisanship in our modern divisive political system?
This weekend’s Washington Post rundown of the back and forth that lead to the passing of a transportation funding measure in Virginia begs the questions if bipartisanship around transportation infrastructure spending is indeed alive and well on the state and local level? In the Virginia story it is clear that Republicans had to bend on their no tax pledge and democrats had to shift on allowing more general fund dollars to go towards transportation. Without knowing the intricate details of the funding plan, it is clear that old school negotiations and horsetrading actually can lead to getting something done! While the plan is a far cry from good in the view of smart growth and transit advocates (see the release from our friends at Coalition for Smarter Growth or this good explanatory post from them) it also has some positive aspects for transit including the ability to raise local dollars for transportation in the urbanized areas of the state.
With similar transportation debates ensuing in statehouses across the country, it will be interesting to see if more bipartisan plans are passed in the coming months. For example, in Pennsylvania the three chambers are controlled by Republicans but Democratic pro-tax and investment votes are needed to pass the measure and they can use their power to leverage the discussion in favor of transit spending. In South Carolina staphangers are getting special election congressional candidates, republicans and democrats, to ride the bus on the campaign trail.
What do you think? While it is hard, if not impossible, to say bipartisanship is alive and well, perhaps it is alive and barely breathing, gasping for breath as it tries to rise up?
On a related note, stay tuned for coverage and tips on how to put on great state advocacy events, lobby days, and rallies with so much action in state capitols across the country right now!
By Andrew Austin