With the forced shut-down of U.S. business activities as part of the fight against the COVID-19 (Wuhan virus) pandemic, Administration and Congressional leaders are seeking ways to buoy the economy. Infrastructure, one of the long-term mainstays or stimulating the economy, has come back to the fore after being dormant during the hyper-partisan political wrangling in D.C. The President has indicated interest in a possible $2.0 trillion dollar package aimed at infrastructure initiatives, while House Speaker Pelosi has focused more on including elements of the “Green New Deal” and other Dem-leaning policies vs. a precise figure. Notwithstanding, the “devil” will be in the details, if and when another pandemic related package is hammered out.
Over the years, CIRT has advocated for critical infrastructure spending levels (the driving element in any initiative), not just at the federal level and not just from public sector sources. The CIRT Board adopted a “Strategic-Vision for Infrastructure in the United States” (hereinafter “Vision for Infrastructure”) in November 2017 that specifically called for, as one of five objectives:
“FUNDING PRIORITY” Organize and expand capital funding and finance methods in a manner that matches the magnitude of the infrastructure investment gap.
Strategy 1a – Authorize expanded alternative financing models including user/mileage fees, infrastructure banks, and/or infrastructure bonds in conjunction with mechanisms to incentivize private equity investment;
Strategy 1b – Support capital budgeting and necessary funding levels (gas taxes, and other levies etc.) to enhance/expand current infrastructure funds, such as the Highway Trust Fund;
Strategy 1c – Undertake a one-time repatriation of U.S. company profits held overseas at a lower, competitive tax rate to seed an infrastructure investment fund;
Strategy 1d – Expand funding and eligibility for current federal government credit assistance programs by increasing the TIFIA authorization to $1B/year immediately, and $2B/year within 5 years. Raise the caps on Private Activity Bonds (PABs) and expand the range of project assets (government buildings, water systems) that are eligible for PABs. Raise the authorization of WIFIA to the full authorization amount of $50M/year and extend the program authorization timeline through 2030;
Strategy 1e – Combine current Congressional infrastructure legislative jurisdictions into a single committee responsible for prioritizing all infrastructure spending needs (across sectors) in line with clearly stated federal policy objectives;
Strategy 1f – Review and/or sunset funding mechanisms which are no longer working for modern infrastructure [such as: HUTF, SRF, annual budgeting, and OMB scoring for infrastructure].For details on all the Objectives read CIRT's “Strategic-Vision for Infrastructure in the U.S.”