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Building Livable Communities for the 21st Century

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"Our role is to expand the choices available to communities -- not to dictate solutions. By providing new tools and resources, we can help communities create the future they want."
--Vice President Gore, Dec. 6, 1999

The Administration's Livable Communities Initiative, launched last year by Vice President Gore, is designed to help communities across America grow in ways that ensure both a high quality of life and strong, sustainable economic growth. This initiative will strengthen the federal government's role as a partner with the growing number of state and local efforts to build "livable communities" for the 21st century.

Key elements of the $9.3 billion Livable Communities Initiative, included in President Clinton's proposed FY 2001 budget, include: $9.1 billion for transportation systems, $25 million for regional smart growth efforts, and $125 million to fund crime solving technologies to improve community safety. The initiative also includes a tax credit proposal calling for $10.75 billion in bonding authority over five years for Better America Bonds. The proposed FY 2001 funding for the Livable Communities initiative represents a 14 percent increase over last year.

Livability Goals
The Clinton-Gore Livable Communities Initiative aims to help citizens and communities:

  • Preserve green spaces that promote clean air and clean water, sustain wildlife, and provide families with places to walk, play and relax.

  • Ease traffic congestion by improving road planning, strengthening existing transportation systems, and expanding use of alternative transportation.

  • Restore a sense of community by fostering citizen and private sector involvement in local planning.

  • Promote collaboration among neighboring communities -- cities, suburbs or rural areas -- to develop regional growth strategies and address common issues like crime.

  • Enhance economic competitiveness by nurturing a high quality of life that attracts well-trained workers and cutting-edge industries.

FY 2001 Livability Initiatives
The President's FY 2001 budget request to Congress includes significant new investments to support major livability programs:

  • Community Transportation Choices. The budget submission includes a record $9.1 billion to help ease traffic congestion and reduce pollution – a $1.1 billion increase over last year's funding level. This item includes $6.3 billion for mass transit, $1.6 billion for congestion relief and air quality improvement, $719 million for community transportation enhancements, $468 million to improve passenger rail service, and $52 million for the Transportation and Community and System Preservation pilot program. The funding will reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality by enhancing transit services and supporting other transportation alternatives, such as high-occupancy vehicle lanes, ridesharing, bicycle and pedestrian paths, and cleaner fuels fleets. The funding will also promote more livable communities by encouraging states and localities to coordinate land use plans and transportation.

  • Better America Bonds. The President's budget will propose $10.75 billion in bonding authority over five years for Better America Bonds – more than a $1 billion increase over last year's proposal. The proposal would allocate $2.15 billion in annual bond authority over the next five years at a cost of approximately $700 million. The bonding authority would allow state, local and tribal governments to finance projects that preserve green space, create or restore urban parks, protect water quality, and clean up brownfields. The tax credit bonds mature in 15 years and the Federal Government would provide tax credits in lieu of interest payments to bondholders – making the bonds interest free for local communities.

  • Regional Connections Initiative. The budget includes $25 million to fund the Department of Housing and Urban Development's proposed Regional Connections Initiative. The program will promote regional “smart growth” strategies and complement the Administration's other regional efforts. Regional Connections matching grants will help local partnerships design and pursue smarter growth strategies across jurisdictional lines. Legislation to authorize this program has been introduced in Congress.

  • Crime Solving Technologies to Improve Community Safety. The budget includes $125 million to fund state and local grants through the Department of Justice for crime-solving technologies to improve public safety. These programs will upgrade and computerize State and local criminal history records, improve crime laboratories, and reduce DNA sample backlog.

  • Community-Federal Information Partnership -- A $50 million program funded by several agencies to provide communities with grants and technical assistance for easy-to-use information tools to help develop strategies for future growth.

    The Livable Communities Initiative integrates the commitments of more than a dozen Federal agencies. The Initiative also supplements the various programs that make up the Administration's Community Empowerment Agenda, which is designed to encourage reinvestment in existing communities and provide greater opportunity for their residents.

As part of last year's livability budget, the Administration requested an additional $1.3 billion in appropriations. Of this, Congress enacted more than $600 million, primarily for transportation.

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