AGC: Bush’s Budget Lacks Quality-of-Life Opportunity

Mon February 16, 2004 - National Edition

According to The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), the Bush Administration’s $2.4 trillion budget submission misses an opportunity to improve the American quality of life.

“The public works programs funded by the federal government enhance the quality of life by improving highways, transit systems, water quality and our waste resources,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC chief executive officer.

AGC urges Congress and the Administration to increase funding to add to America’s quality of life. The House and Senate are considering legislation to significantly increase funding for highways and transit along with legislation that would significantly increase funding for water and waste water systems nationwide.

Despite Congressional preference to fund these programs at a higher level, the President’s budget recommends flat-line funding or cuts. Funding for the Army Corps of Engineers General Construction Program is recommended for funding that would flat-line its efforts. This decision comes despite the fact that both the House and Senate expressed concern about how funding cuts had caused significant cash management problems for important Corps’ flood control and dredging projects.

“These are long-term projects that require a sound funding stream to execute and they have significant public support,” Sandherr said. “Recommending cuts ignores the economic efficiencies and resulting jobs that can be created by many of these programs,” he noted.

“While AGC understands the tough budget problems facing our country, the nation must be as cognizant of the infrastructure deficit as we are of the budget deficit. Failure to invest in infrastructure today will only increase the ultimate costs, placing budgetary pressures on future administrations,” said Sandherr.

“The tax side of the budget is a mixed bag and we are pleased that the President calls for making some of the income and ’death’ tax relief permanent. Private nonresidential construction has been in decline for three years; we hope Congress will renew extended relief for net operating losses and other investment incentives,” Sandherr emphasized.

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