Legislation to establish infrastructure investment bonds has met with resistance in the past. The political climate has changed, however, as more and more Americans understand viscerally how critical safe roads, rails and shipping facilities are to the economy and the public’s safety.
From The Oregonian:
Sen. Ron Wyden hopes the third time is the charm.
After two failed efforts, the Oregon Democrat again is teaming with a Republican senator to push for a plan to issue billions of dollars in transportation bonds to help cash-strapped states fix roads, bridges and transit systems.
This time, Wyden is teaming with Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and proposes using up to $50 billion in bonds to boost the nation’s infrastructure.
Under the legislation, bonds would be spent on transportation projects around the country, including roads, bridges, railroads and waterways. Instead of interest, bond holders would receive tax credits.
The two senators said the money would be in addition to money states receive from the federal Highway Trust Fund, which pays for building and repairing roads and bridges through a national gas tax.
NAM President John Engler attended the news conference yesterday. His statement:
How does the world’s largest and most successful economy have 75,621 structurally deficient bridges and another 79,523 that are functionally obsolete…This is first and foremost an issue of public safety, as was underscored by the recent tragedy in Minnesota. But it is also a critical economic issue. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, Americans spend 3.5 billion hours a year stuck in traffic, costing $63.2 billion per year to the economy.
Last March, the NAM’s Board of Directors determined that the U.S. infrastructure demanded action, and in August the NAM formed the Alliance to Improve America’s Infrastructure.
UPDATE (12:35 p.m.): The AP story notes Sen. Norm Coleman’s support and quotes Engler.
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