Freshman Member of Congress, John Delaney (D-MD), recently announced that he will be introducing an which would create the Office of Infrastructure Investment and the American Infrastructure Fund. The proposal would develop a large scale financing mechanism for transportation, energy, communication, water, and educational infrastructure using a public-private partnership modal.
According to Delaney the proposal “will combine investments by U.S. corporations, for which they obtain a tax-credit for overseas earnings repatriation, with low-cost funding and project specific private investment to help build the backbone of our country for the future.” The concept comes after President Bill Clinton once again brought up the idea of an infrastructure bank at the House Democratic Issue Conference earlier this month.
ASCE applauds Congressman Delaney for seeking funding for our nation’s infrastructure. Innovative financing such as a National Infrastructure Bank, could provide a fiscally prudent means to begin repairing our nation’s deteriorating infrastructure. Innovative financing techniques can greatly accelerate infrastructure development and can have a powerful economic stimulus effect. The nation must develop and authorize innovative financing programs that not only make resources readily available, but also encourage the most effective and efficient use of those resources. Federal investment must be used to complement, encourage, and leverage investment from the state and local government levels as well as from the private sector. In addition, users of infrastructure must be willing to pay the appropriate price for their use.
However, it must be noted that without long-term financial assurance, the ability of the federal, state, and local governments to do effective infrastructure investment planning will remain severely constrained. Therefore, a National Infrastructure Bank, or other mechanisms that allow for the government to leverage private dollars, cannot be the silver bullet. Instead these concepts should be used as one key to increasing infrastructure investments and should be combined with other innovative, as well as historically proven, revenue streams. Therefore, as the 113th Congress works to provide revenue solutions for infrastructure, ASCE will continue to urge that all options remain on the table. In the meantime, we look forward to seeing Congressman Delaney’s bill!