Interesting legislative update from Metro CEO Art Leahy, on a nice shout-out from President Obama on the proposed America Fast Forward bond program:
President Obama Backs America Fast Forward Bonds in Address at Port of New Orleans
Earlier today, at an event held at the port of New Orleans, President Barack Obama outlined his plan to immediately invest $50 billion in America’s infrastructure through his “Fix it First” initiative.
The initiative, as outlined in a White House fact sheet, includes a modified version of our America Fast Forward Transportation Bond program. Specifically, the White House fact sheet shares that the “new America Fast Forward bonds program would build upon and expand a successful program created in the Recovery Act to attract private capital for infrastructure investments.”
The main difference between our agency’s America Fast Forward Transportation Bond program and the bond program being advanced by the President relates to the level of federal subsidy.
Our agency’s bond initiative envisions the federal government subsidizing nearly all interest costs associated with America Fast Forward Transportation Bonds, while the President’s plan includes a more modest rate of subsidy.
I look forward to continuing our work with White House officials, seniors officials at the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Members of Congress and their staff to advance our Board-approved policy of seeking to have America Fast Forward Transportation Bonds enacted into federal law.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether Congress gets on board with the bond program. They previously incorporated an expanded TIFIA loan program — also proposed by America Fast Forward — as part of the last multi-year transportation bill. TIFIA provides federally-backed low-interest loans.
The bond program is equally important as it could deliver the dollars Metro and other transportation agencies need to build big, pricey projects. And Metro has more than a few of those it is trying to build.