BPC's Council on Infrastructure Announces Modernization Coalition

📅   Fri March 24, 2017 - National Edition
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The Bipartisan Policy Center's Executive Council on Infrastructure announced the Coalition to Modernize American Infrastructure, which will set a foundation for the 2017 infrastructure debate.

Both political parties understand that smart investments in infrastructure contribute to economic growth, job creation and overall quality of life, but there are differing opinions on a new effort to modernize America's transportation, water, broadband and energy systems.

The infrastructure coalition, includes:

• the United States Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business organization representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors and regions;

• National Association of Manufacturers, the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing 11,000 small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states;

• National Governors Association, the collective voice of the nation's governors from the 55 states, territories and commonwealths;

• North America's Building Trades Unions, which represents nearly 3 million working families;

• Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, which represents the broker-dealers, banks and asset managers whose nearly 1 million employees provide access to the capital markets, raising more than $2.5 trillion for businesses and municipalities in the United States, serving clients with more than $20 trillion in assets and managing more than $67 trillion in assets for individual and institutional clients including mutual funds and retirement plans;

• and Business Roundtable, whose CEO members lead companies with more than $6 trillion in annual revenues and nearly 15 million employees.

The Coalition to Modernize American Infrastructure is built on the following shared principles:

• Infrastructure — including transportation, energy, broadband, water and wastewater — must be a national priority in order to ensure future economic prosperity. Many of our systems for building and maintaining transportation, energy, water and wastewater infrastructure are in crisis and there is a growing desire among the American people for our leaders to move beyond the status quo. While the nation's broadband infrastructure is world-class, more could be done in rural areas not yet served by high-speed networks. This country needs the new administration and Congress to work together to ensure that our nation's infrastructure supports the health and safety of Americans and provides our communities a foundation for future economic prosperity.

• Robust, reliable, long-term federal funding is essential. Federal infrastructure programs such as the Highway Trust Fund and the revolving loan funds for water are underfunded and unable to meet current demands. Critical needs are going unaddressed with regard to transportation, energy and water, undermining economic growth and public safety. With $3 trillion needed for this infrastructure over the next decade, states, cities, counties and other public and private providers of these critical services must continue their important role and the federal commitment to infrastructure must be restored. Further, with respect to broadband, federal decision-makers should continue to work in partnership with the private sector and states to foster infrastructure deployment in remaining unserved areas.

• The United States should unleash the resources of the private sector as partners in addressing our infrastructure needs. By encouraging public-private partnerships (P3s) and expanding financing programs, the United States can increase efficiency, maximize public value and attract additional capital that can be deployed to meet our urgent transportation, energy and water needs. Removing barriers and providing incentives for P3s will allow public agencies to share the long-term costs and risks of infrastructure projects as well as benefit from private sector expertise and innovation. Regarding financing, the United States has a vibrant tax-exempt debt market that has financed trillions of dollars of infrastructure projects. Complementing this successful model with an expanded set of financing programs — such as private activity and direct payment bonds and tax credits — would ensure that all sources of private capital can be engaged.

• The United States should adopt policies to deliver modern infrastructure more quickly and at less cost. By expediting permitting, modernizing procurement practices, promoting innovation and committing to project analysis that focuses on long-term risk management, the federal government can extract greater value out of limited funds and support the delivery of higher quality, longer lasting infrastructure. Government, industry and labor must work together to implement these changes while also promoting employment standards that increase both job quality and access and ensure that we are leveraging infrastructure investments to utilize the safest, most skilled and most productive workforce in the world.

As advocates, experts and business leaders, we are a diverse coalition that are united by a shared vision. Together, we can make a transformative impact on our nation's infrastructure, create millions of jobs, maintain the health, safety and security of our communities and put our nation on track for decades of greater prosperity, the coalition said.

For more information, visit InfrastructureCouncil.org/Coalition.