This “highway robbery” is part of a Senate-passed Tribal Transportation Program funding distribution formula currently being considered by the House–Senate conference on the reauthorization of surface transportation programs.
The proposed changes contained in the Senate bill, S. 1813 (“Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act”, or MAP-21), would discard the longstanding “relative-needs-based” distribution formula for Indian reservation roads funding—a formula that was crafted by all tribal stakeholders over several years in a formal negotiated rule-making process—and replace it with a Senate-created, population-based formula that shortchanges tribes with the highest mileage of reservation roads within their reservation boundaries.
The population-based formula, if adopted by the House-Senate conference committee in the coming weeks, would have a devastating fiscal impact on geographically-isolated tribes who do not have the population numbers to compete for critical roads infrastructure dollars with tribes who are located near major population centers. Tribes like White Earth and Red Lake, whose remote northern Minnesota locations are hundreds of miles away from population centers, will suffer disproportionately under this proposed formula.
Specifically, the funding formula contained in the Senate’s bill would drastically reduce funding amounts for the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians to the point that Red Lake would not be able to provide basic transportation services to our members and guests who use our reservation roads. At Red Lake, far from major gaming markets, we struggle to stay afloat financially – the MAP-21 formula would cut $800,000 from our annual budget for roads construction and maintenance and give it to other tribes. We can’t afford that cut.
At White Earth, the MAP-21 reduction would force us to pick and choose our future reservation roads projects in a manner that endangers not only tribal members but non-members as well.
FULL ARTICLE HERE: Stop MAP-21’s Highway Robbery – ICTMN.com.