As of now, the long anticipated bi-partisan supported transportation authorization legislation that sets many infrastructure spending elements, standards, and approaches has taken a back seat to the political wrangling that has consumed the Congressional calendar. Notwithstanding, valuable work has continued on key issues facing the industry and decisions makers about elements of the next bill. Listed below are some materials, studies, and reports Reason Foundation has recently identified on these subject of financing.
RESOURCES [Financing Alternatives]:
(A) Mileage vs. Gas Taxes: The major problem facing advocates of mileage-based-user-fees: unpopularity. The National Cooperative Highway Research Program’s NCHRP Synthesis 487 found that the average support for MBUFs in numerous polls was just 24 percent. This is partly because of public concerns and media portrayals of mileage-based user fees (MBUFs) as “Big Brother in your car.” It also reflects fears that this will end up being an additional tax, rather than a replacement for fuel taxes. A recent policy brief takes this challenge head-on: “How a State Could Transition From Per-Gallon Gas Taxes to Per-Mile Charges,” suggests ways MBUFs can represent a genuine value proposition for those expected to pay per mile instead of per gallon.
(B) Public-Private Partnerships (P3’s): The debate over the efficiency, costs, and return (in terms of savings for clients, and/or margins for contractors) continues to rage, if not having intensified in recent. Two reports weigh into the subject: (1) to address some of the claims[“Leveraging Private Capital for Infrastructure Renewal” is a recent product of the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, published as NCHRP Synthesis 540, and available at no charge from the TRB website]; and (2) a status report on the magnitude or number of projects using the P3 approach in the U.S. [Reason’s 2019Annual Privatization Report on Surface Transportation contains news on state P3 legislation and concession activities, while noting that overall, compared to other countries, the U.S. continues to lag in public-private partnerships].
(C) Assets Recycling: While still relatively underutilized, contractors, state and local governments interested in asset recycling should review a 2014 report from the Mowat Centre, a public policy think tank in Ontario, Canada: “Recycling Ontario’s Assets: A New Framework for Managing Public Finances.”