Take it To The Infrastructure Bank
- Written by Mark Kuhar
March 16, 2011 – Some Senators are finally starting to stir the pot. Democratic Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) and Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas) introduced bipartisan legislation on March 15 to create a federal infrastructure bank to fund projects around the nation. The legislation would create an American Infrastructure Financing Authority at an initial cost of about $10 billion. Its objective would be to provide loans and loan guarantees for large infrastructure projects. With the rejection of an increase in the gas user fee, this has been promoted as an alternative funding mechanism for surface transportation projects around the country, according to NSSGA. As proposed, the American Infrastructure Financing Authority would provide loans and loan guarantees for large infrastructure projects. Kerry has stressed that money from the bank would come in the form of loans – not grants – and that no more than 50 percent of the loan will be federal government money. They expect to leverage $600 billion or so in infrastructure investments over time. About $30 billion for the bank is included in the six-year, $556 billion transportation plan proposed by President Obama. With the Highway Trust Fund running short of cash and the federal budget running large deficits, lawmakers and the Obama administration are looking for ways to pay for improving the nation's aging infrastructure while getting new projects off the ground. Lawmakers are discussing public-private partnerships that can propel multiple modes of transportation such as improvements to highways, bridges, airports, railways and ports.