RESOLUTION TO OPPOSE UNLESS AMENDED: US SENATE BILL S.1813 AND HOUSE BILL H.R.7 FOR FAILING TO PROVIDE EQUITABLE FUNDING OF THE INDIAN RESERVATION ROADS PROGRAM
WHEREAS, the Great Plains (formerly Aberdeen Area) Tribal Chairman’s Association (GPTCA) is composed of the elected Chairs and Presidents of the 16 Sovereign Indian Tribes and Nations recognized by Treaties with the United States that are within the Great Plains Region of the Bureau of Indian Affairs; and
WHEREAS, the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association was formed to promote the interests of the Sovereign Tribes and Nations and their members of the Great Plains Region which comprises the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska; and
WHEREAS, the United States has obligated itself through Treaties entered into with the Sovereign Tribes and Nations of the Great Plains Region and through its own federal statutes, Laws, the Constitution, international law and well-articulated policies; the United States has pledged to protect Indian Tribes, guarantee the right of Tribal self-government, protection and safety, and to promote the viability of Indian reservations and lands as permanent homelands for Indian Tribes, and
WHEREAS, the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association (“GPTCA”) met on February 7-8, 2012 and reviewed Congressional legislation pending in the US House and Senate to re authorize funding for Transportation and Highways, (S. 1813 “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (“MAP-21”) and H.R. 7 “American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012 (House Bill”); and
WHEREAS, GPTCA strives to insure the most beneficial use of Tribal funding for Tribes in their region who administer their own large Governments, school systems, Law Enforcement Departments, Hospitals, Transportation Departments Housing Departments with some Reservations larger than the States of Connecticut and Rhode Island and
WHEREAS, infrastructure improvements within the Great Plains and large land based Tribes, including roads, remain a key to economic development, healthcare and Public Safety, especially for these Tribes, whose land is in Counties with the highest poverty rate in the United States according to the U.S. Census and
WHEREAS, roads provide Tribal citizens and others access to home, businesses, schools, government offices, markets, Justice Centers and health care facilities, among other things; and
WHEREAS, funding for construction, improvements and maintenance of such roads comes from the Indian Reservation Roads (“IRR”) program, that is part of the highway bill that is passed by the U.S. Congress that authorizes funding for the surface highway transportation system of the United States; this year the bills is known as the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (“MAP-21”), and “American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012” (“House Bill”)
WHEREAS, the purpose of the IRR program is to provide funding for roads within the Indian reservations of the United States, primarily those roads that are solely managed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs or the Tribes though the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEA); and
WHEREAS, in the federal highway ACT now in effect (SAFETEA-LU), no specific formula for distribution of the roads available under the IRR program is set forth; in the past, development of this formula has been left to either the BIA or to a negotiated rulemaking process, and this rulemaking process has not led to a formula that distributes the funds fairly among all eligible Tribes; and
WHEREAS, the funding formula that has been developed under the current highway ACT divides the funds among the federally recognized Indian Tribes based on various factors, including miles traveled and user population, among other things; and
WHEREAS, in Fiscal Year 2006, 76% of the BIA’s IRR budget went to Tribal and BIA Roads and the remaining 24% percent went to State and County roads, Forest Service, Park Service, and other roads which have an independent source of funding, as well as “planned” roads, many of which will in fact never be constructed, but by 2008 the percent of the BIA IRR budget going for Tribal and BIA roads had declined to 28% of the total, and for FY 2011 the figure has dropped to 20%; and
WHEREAS, the consequence for Tribes with substantial reservation roads, solely dependent on IRR funding, has been very significant, as reservation roads programs for tribes with many miles of reservation roads and a large land base that solely depend on the IRR funds have suffered severe budget cuts and have been unable to keep up with basic maintenance, improvement and new construction needs, including for the Tribes who are members of GPTCA; and
WHEREAS, the trend of the BIA to provide IRR funding for non-reservation roads or roads that receive funding from other sources is endangering the very lives of Tribal citizens who must travel on bad roads. Tribal Law Enforcement Officers risk their lives responding to calls over bad roads. Our children are especially at risk traveling on unsafe roads. Winter is especially hazardous affecting road conditions for school buses and parents transporting children, with ice, snow and temperatures well below zero. Unpaved roads become muddy and impassable. This trend of underfunding our roadways has led to the death of many and is completely unacceptable to the Tribes who are members of the 16 Tribes of the GPTCA; and
WHEREAS, legislation has been proposed in the United States Senate and reported out of the Senate Transportation Committee called MAP-21 which sets forth a formula for distribution of roads funds to Indian Tribes that would be authorized by a newly named “Tribal Roads” program, that is part of a new two-year federal highway funding bill; and
WHEREAS, a comparison of whether funding for any individual Tribe or BIA Region will increase or decrease from present funding levels if the formula in MAP-21 is used has not yet been completed by the BIA, but preliminary analysis of the impact of MAP-21 on large land based Tribes that are members of the GPTCA suggests no improvement in distribution of the funds to the Tribes with the greatest needs, including the members of GPTCA; and
WHEREAS, it appears likely that MAP-21 is likely to be enacted by the U.S. Congress in some form within the next few weeks or months in the 112th Congress, and opportunities may be present to seek amendments to MAP-21 that will create a formula for distribution of Tribal roads funds (“MAP- 21 Formula”) that will better meet the needs of large land based Tribes with many miles or roads in their inventories.
WHEREAS, the House bill, similarly includes an IRR funding formula, that does not address the inequity in funding to the Tribes with the most need;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the GPTCA hereby supports retaining the title “Indian Reservation Roads Program” for a Tribal Roads Program and funding formula. (IRR) to be inserted in MAP-21 or any House bill provided that amendments are made to the proposed formula that more adequately apply the funding to the inventory of roads that Tribes must maintain. GPTCA will support the following changes to the pending Senate Bill (MAP-21) and the House Bill:
1) AMEND THE MAP-21 FORMULA that provides only 20% based on a Tribe’s Roads Inventory to 40% thus allowing a tribe’s Tribal and BIA lane mileage to be given more weight. MAP-21 also needs to specify that the 2004 inventory used in this calculation will be limited to lane miles that were eligible for funding. These amendments to this section will more adequately apply funding to Tribal transportation needs and clarify for the Agency how to quantify the 2004 inventory;
2) AMEND THE MAP-21 FORMULA to decease the percentage of funding based solely on population from 40% to 30%. This amendment will still provide substantial value to population and the needs of Tribes that are more urban. Additional amendments are necessary to define which year will apply to the population count and when the count may be adjusted.
3) AMEND THE MAP-21 FORMULA that applies an evenly divided sum to the 12 BIA regions, by eliminating the categories based on population, and substituting a distribution plan based on each tribe’s 2004 and current inventory of BIA and Tribal Roads. The current language in MAP-21 that uses population categories has been shown to disadvantage tribes by an arbitrary formula, that results is inequitable distributions depending on the number of tribes in each category. See attached Chart. The amendment would also reduce the regional distribution from 40% to 30%. This would allow a formula with 40% based on inventory, 30% based on population and 30% divided among the regions and distributed based on inventory.
4) AMEND THE MAP-21 FORMULA that allows for supplemental funding during a transition period to tribes that received less funding under MAP-21 by again eliminating the population categories and distributing funds base on 2004 and current inventory as described above.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that GPTCA supports further consultation between Congress, the BIA, the federal Department of Transportation and the Tribal governments to ensure that an equitable funding formula be created for distribution of Indian Reservation Roads funds that will meet the needs of the large land based Tribes and members of the GPTCA in the future; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that GPTCA will send letters to the respective Congressional sponsors and leadership offices in both the House and the Senate opposing the funding formulas that are in the pending authorization Bills, and also urges each GPTCA member to write opposition letters and adopt similar resolutions that will urge development of a fair IRR funding formula to meet the needs of all Tribal Nations; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that this resolution shall be the policy of GPTCA until otherwise amended or rescinded, or until the policy objective of this Resolution is accomplished.
This resolution was enacted at a duly called meeting of the GPTCA at a meeting held in Aberdeen, South Dakota, at which a quorum was present, with 12 members voting in favor, 1 members opposed, 0 members not abstaining, and 3 members not present.
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