Obama plan: $50B and infrastructure bank

Industry is grateful for the effort but really wants a long-term authorization

Funding News Various September 09, 2011
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The American Jobs Act, announced by President Obama last night, includes $50 billion in immediate investments for highways, transit, rail and aviation, helping to modernize an infrastructure that now receives a grade of D from the American Society of Civil Engineers and putting hundreds of thousands of construction workers back on the job, according to a White House statement.

The president’s plan includes investments to improve our airports, support NextGen Air Traffic Modernization efforts and resources for the TIGER and TIFIA programs, which target competitive dollars to innovative multimodal infrastructure programs. It will also take special steps to enhance infrastructure-related job training opportunities for individuals from under-represented groups and ensure that small businesses can compete for infrastructure contracts.

The president will work administratively to speed infrastructure investment through a recently issued Presidential Memorandum developed with his Jobs Council directing departments and agencies to identify high-impact, job-creating infrastructure projects that can be expedited in a transparent manner through outstanding review and permitting processes.

The president also called for Congress to pass a National Infrastructure Bank capitalized with $10 billion, in order to leverage private and public capital and to invest in a broad range of infrastructure projects of national and regional significance, without earmarks or traditional political influence. The bank would be based on the model Sens. Kerry and Hutchison have championed, while building on legislation by Sens. Rockefeller and Lautenberg and the work of long-time infrastructure bank champions like Rosa DeLauro and the input of the President’s Jobs Council.

In response to the president’s announcement, Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) President Dennis Slater said, "Over the past two years, political leaders have settled for no fewer than seven short-term extensions of the highway bill. However, roads and bridges aren’t funded or built a few months at a time. These critical projects require long-term investment.

“America’s manufacturers are eager to rebuild and modernize infrastructure projects throughout the nation. A well-funded highway bill will allow people to get back to work, provide much needed revenue to local communities and restore a sense of optimism in our nation’s future. What’s needed is a sense of urgency from political leaders in D.C."

ARTBA President and CEO Pete Ruane commended President Obama for “underscoring the urgent need to improve the nation’s transportation network to boost long-term economic competitiveness and create new jobs. It’s time to move beyond the rhetoric and move forward with something much more concrete on the policy front.

“An infrastructure bank as mentioned by the president is a critical tool to advance large-scale, intermodal projects and is certainly a part of the solution. But, it will take many months to establish and have little instant impact on job creation or in fixing crumbling roads, bridges and transit systems.

“Most immediately, Congress should pass robust, multiyear highway, transit and aviation reauthorization investment bills that have been languishing for years. They provide the best opportunity to improve the performance of our transportation network and put millions of construction workers back on the job quickly.”

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