Business, Lawmakers Make the Case for More Infrastructure
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Our nation’s infrastructure system is in a rapid state of decline, threatening safety, productivity, and our global competitiveness, according to attendees at the Let’s Rebuild America’s Transportation and Infrastructure Summit.
“Transportation is a great opportunity to prove that Democrats and Republicans can work together, that states and the federal government can each play an appropriate role, that business is stepping up to help meet a major national challenge, and that all parties can come together to actually get something done for the good of the nation,” U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue told the audience of experts representing all forms of transportation and infrastructure.
Donohue also unveiled priorities on the big three issues that will make or break the future of competitive public infrastructure in the United States: putting in place a plan to ensure adequate funding for years to come, creating lasting partnerships between government and the private sector, and addressing the “pay-fors,” including phasing in a modest gas tax increase and indexing it to inflation.
Donohue said another way the private sector can help is by pumping as much as $250 billion of private capital into public-private partnerships, or P3s.
“First, all 50 U.S. states should pass legislation enabling P3s by the end of next year. Second, the private sector needs to educate state and local officials about the benefits of P3s. Third, the federal government can help by simply staying out of the way and not putting hurdles in the path of states and localities who want to engage in P3s. Washington can also continue to provide lower cost financing and technical assistance, and make that financing more attractive.”
Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Rep. Bill Shuster also spoke at the event and made a similar case on the need for infrastructure investment.
The need for further investment is well documented and alarming. A recent study released by the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the United States needs to spend $2.75 trillion to maintain and improve its infrastructure by 2020, or roughly 66 percent more than the $1.66 trillion in currently expected funding over that period.
Later in the day, Donohue testified before Shuster’s committee on the importance of transportation infrastructure to the U.S. economy, and the federal government’s role in providing a safe, efficient, reliable transportation system.
“Our infrastructure system is a tremendous national asset we’ve built up over generations,” Donohue told the committee. “It has fueled economic growth, enhanced our competitiveness, and created a lot of good jobs. If well-maintained, it can continue to deliver outstanding benefits to all Americans.
Donohue’s complete testimony before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure is available here.