A push for public transit funding

MASON CITY, Iowa – Each year lawmakers meet and discuss what needs to change for the state and this can come in the form of bills and new laws, but one of the toughest parts of the legislative session is divvying up the budget.

Local lawmakers anticipate that the 2014 session could wrap up early this year, which means budget decisions will be announced sooner rather than later.

Kevin Kramer, the Transit Administrator in Mason City is hoping that part of the state funds will go toward updates to public transit statewide.

“Region two has 92 buses, we had two replaced so at that rate, it would take 45 years to replace these buses.”

45 years and a lot of money out of pocket for maintenance and repairs is what it would take to get his fleet in even better shape than they already are.

With this much of an undertaking, it’s no surprise that Kramer and other public transit officials are looking to local lawmakers for a little help with making ends meet.

State Rep. Sharon Steckman says that the state of Iowa has been very financially responsible over the past couple of years, which means the surplus and savings we have are available for projects just like this.

“We have enough money to fund our priorities, we have enough money to fund education, we have enough money to fund REAP,” Steckman said, “and we still end up with over a $500 million surplus, and $400 million in savings.”

While nothing has been set in stone for how much funding the public transit system could receive, that question might be answered sooner than Kramer thought.

Steckman says that she has heard some lawmakers say they hope to accomplish their budget conversation within the next couple of weeks.

With the weather warming up and roadways drying off, Kramer is expecting rider-ship to pick up, which means demands will be high.

He’s hoping that the funding from the state can relieve a little bit of their high maintenance costs so they can focus on putting more services on the roads to better serve their community.

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