3/14/12: Earlier today the Senate approved legislation, S.1813, the “Moving Ahead for Progress for the 21st Century Act,” which would reinstate parity between the transit and parking portions of the commuter benefit through 2012 and make it retroactive back to January.
As you know, in 2010, as part of the “Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010,” Congress included a provision that kept the mass transit portion of the commuter benefit at $230 per month for 2011, preventing a reduction to $125 per month, and keeping it equal to the parking tax benefit. Unfortunately, because Congress did not again extend the transit benefit before it expired at the end of 2011, the monthly maximum transit amount was reduced to $125 per month on January 1, 2012.
Meanwhile, due to an automatic cost of living increase, the monthly limit for the parking portion of the commuter benefit was increased from $230 per month to $240 per month for 2012, further exacerbating the current disparity between the transit and parking benefits. S.1813 would set the transit benefit at $240.
Since Congress’ failure to extend the transit benefit by the end of 2011, NTEU has been working diligently with our supporters in Congress to highlight the importance of reinstating parity between the transit and parking portions of the commuter benefit. In testimony submitted to the Senate Finance Committee and in letters to every member of the Senate, NTEU has highlighted the importance of the transit benefit to many working people, especially federal employees that use public transportation to get to and from work, and who rely on the benefit to provide relief in their commuting costs.
“Improving transit benefits will prove incredibly important to all working people that use or would like to use public transportation and are seeking critical relief for commuting costs,” NTEU National President Colleen Kelley said today. “With parity between parking and mass transit, the employer will encourage greater use of mass transit, which helps decrease road congestion, reduce pollution and conserve gas,” she went on, “and with gas prices going higher and higher, this makes more sense than ever.”
Action on S.1813 now turns to the House which may consider it as early as next week. You can be assured that NTEU will urge the House to support parity between the transit and parking portions of the commuter benefit through passage of S.1813 or other transportation legislation, or through passage of stand-alone legislation pending in the House and Senate (H.R. 2412/S.1034), the “Commuter Benefits Equity Act of 2011”. To see what you can do, please go to www.capwiz.com/nteu.