Trying to foreclose a funding gap for America’s transportation infrastructure that some estimates say could reach $2 trillion in the next decade, a bi-partisan Congressional group is advancing a plan to modernize the manner in which that system is funded.
The Problem Solvers Caucus, equally made up of both Democrat and Republican members of the House of Representatives, wants to see the current 18.4 cents per-gallon user fee on gasoline increased as a means of raising needed revenue for infrastructure construction and maintenance projects.
It its report, entitled Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure, the caucus says it is up to Congress to “provide stable long-term sustainable funding for infrastructure,” and calls in particular for the federal tax-exempt status of both municipal and private activity bonds used to finance infrastructure projects.
In addition, the group is recommending that states be given incentives to adopt public/private partnership legislation specifically designed to pay for infrastructure projects.
“While private sector participation alone cannot close the infrastructure gap,” says the report, giving states and local government incentives to pass legislation allowing for public private projects “will provide them with an additional tool in their toolbox.”
What chances the group’s recommendations will have in the current session of Congress are unknown, particularly regarding upping the gasoline tax.
But an additional recommendation being advanced by the caucus has received some positive comment: requiring all federally-funded projects worth more than $20 million to conduct 20-year life-cycle assessments to “assess all future costs associated with the operation and maintenance” of the projects in question.
by Garry Boulard
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