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NTEU Seeks Approval of Legislation To Establish Transit Subsidy Parity

Tuesday, January 31 2012

Washington, D.C. –The leader of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) today called on Congress to approve legislation that would permanently establish parity between the parking and mass transit portions of the employee transportation benefit.

At the same time, NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley urged the Senate Finance Committee to include in any package of tax extenders a provision to reinstate such parity.

S. 1034, the Commuter Benefits At of 2011, introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), would permanently establish parity between the parking and mass transit portions of the commuter benefit.

President Kelley said NTEU “stands ready to do all it can to ensure this critical benefit for workers and employers is extended in the near future.”

In testimony submitted to the Finance Committee, the NTEU leader said “It makes no sense for the government to provide workers using environmentally-helpful mass transit a lesser benefit than those driving and parking their personal vehicles.”

Parity between the two elements of the transportation benefit ended at Dec. 31, 2011, when Congress failed to extend the mass transit portion, which had previously been increased to $230 per month. Instead, it reverted to a maximum of $125 per month; the parking benefit, meanwhile, increased at the start of this year to $240 per month from $230.

In her testimony, Kelley emphasized that a higher monthly mass transit benefit would “encourage greater transit ridership—which helps lessen congestion on roadways; reduce pollution; and conserve energy.”

Moreover, she said, the mass transit benefit provides tax relief for employers who offer it, since it is paid with pre-tax dollars. That frees up funds for employers to invest in their enterprises; in 2010, she noted, employers are estimated to have saved more than $300 million by offering this important benefit to their employees.

NTEU is the nation’s largest independent union of federal employees, representing 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.

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