Metro’s government relations staff wrote the following update on the job creation package proposed by President Barack Obama on Thursday.
My quick take: it appears there will be more transportation money on the table — if Congress approves the package. However, it remains to be seen how much of those funds can be secured by Metro and how much can be applied toward accelerating Measure R transit and road projects.
White House Details Transportation Spending In American Jobs Act
Embedded as part of the American Jobs Act unveiled by President Obama last night is a proposal to provide $50 billion in immediate federal transportation spending. The proposed funding includes a request for Congress to provide $9 billion for our nation’s transit systems and $27 billion to bolster our nation’s highways. The proposal also includes an initiative, consistent with America Fast Forward, to vastly expand federal support for the Transportation Infrastructure and Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program. Another $10 billion would be used to create a National Infrastructure Bank. To emphasize the importance of his transportation proposals, President Obama stated last night that, “building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us an economic superpower.” Below please find language from a White House fact sheet detailing the transportation spending outlined in the American Jobs Act.
After the jump is a list of transportation funding initiatives in the American Jobs Act.
Immediate Investments in Infrastructure ($50 billion): In order to jumpstart critical infrastructure projects and create hundreds of thousands of jobs, the President’s plan includes $50 billion in immediate investments for highway, highway safety, transit, passenger rail, and aviation activities – with one fifth of the funding advancing a transformation of how we finance transportation infrastructure and what we finance.
Investments in Making Our Nation’s Highway Systems Safer and More Efficient: The President’s plan includes investments totaling $27 billion to make our nation’s highway systems more efficient and safer for passenger and commercial transportation.
Repairing Transit Systems and Improving Our Rail Systems: The plan includes $9 billion of investments to repair our nation’s transit systems, many of which are desperately in need of modernization. It also includes $2 billion in funding to improve intercity passenger rail service. These funds will connect communities, reduce travel times and congestion, and create skilled manufacturing jobs.
Improving Our Airports: The plan also includes airport improvement grants of $2 billion to improve safety, add capacity, and modernize airport infrastructure across the country.
Opportunities for All in the Transportation Sector: The President’s plan would invest an additional $50 million in 2012 to enhance employment and job training opportunities that will benefit minorities, women, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals in transportation related activities, including construction, contract administration, inspection, and security. His plan will also invest an additional $10 million in 2012 to help minority-owned and disadvantaged business enterprises gain better access to transportation contracts. And it will ensure that infrastructure investments allow for the hiring of local workers, to maximize economic benefits for communities where projects are located.
Funding for Innovative Transportation: The plan includes $10 billion for innovative ways of financing and investing in infrastructure. This includes $4 billion to develop high-speed rail corridors; $1 billion to support NextGen Air Traffic Modernization efforts, which will employ technology to make the National Airspace System safer and more efficient, and $5 billion for the TIGER and TIFIA programs, which target competitive dollars to innovative, multi-modal transportation programs.
Expediting High Impact Infrastructure Projects: The President recently issued a Presidential Memorandum in coordination with his Jobs Council directing departments and agencies to identify high impact, job-creating infrastructure projects that can be expedited through outstanding review and permitting processes within the control and jurisdiction of the federal government. The President also directed the creation of a Projects Dashboard to ensure the details of each project identified will be available for stakeholders to follow through the expedited review process and provide public input. This initiative will create infrastructure related jobs and use the lessons learned to develop best practices that can be applied more broadly to permitting and review processes going forward.
National Infrastructure Bank ($10 billion).To direct Federal resources for infrastructure to projects that demonstrate the most merit and may be difficult to fund under the current patchwork of Federal programs, the President is also calling for the creation of a National Infrastructure Bank (NIB), based on the model that Senators Kerry and Hutchison have championed with bi-partisan support in the Senate. It also builds on legislation by Senators Rockefeller and Lautenberg, the work of long-time infrastructure bank champions like Rep. Rosa DeLauro and input from the President’s Jobs Council. The National Infrastructure Bank’s key provisions would include:
Independent, Non-Partisan Operations Led by Infrastructure and Financial Experts While NIB would be a government-owned entity, it would not be controlled by any federal agency and instead would operate independently. No more than four voting members of its seven member board could be from the same political party. Board members would have to possess significant expertise either in the management of a relevant financial institution or in the financing, development, or operation of infrastructure projects.
Broad eligibility for Infrastructure and Unbiased Project Selection: Eligible projects would include transportation infrastructure, water infrastructure, and energy infrastructure. In general, projects would have to be at least $100 million in size and be of national or regional significance. Projects would have a clear public benefit, meet rigorous economic, technical and environmental standards, and be backed by a dedicated revenue stream. Geographic, sector, and size considerations would also be taken into account.
Addressing Market Gaps for Infrastructure Financing: The NIB would issue loans and loan guarantees to eligible projects. Loans issued by NIB would use approximately the same interest rate as similar-length United States Treasury securities and could be extended up to 35 years, giving the NIB the ability to be a “patient” partner side-by-side with State, local, and private co-investors. To maximize leverage from Federal investments, the NIB would finance no more than 50 percent of the total costs of any project.
What Others Are Saying About a National Infrastructure Bank
Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison: “This national infrastructure bank is an innovative way to leverage private-public partnerships and maximize private funding to address our water, transportation, and energy infrastructure needs.” (March 15, 2011).
Democratic Senator John Kerry: “Democrats and Republicans, business and labor, are now united to create an American infrastructure bank to leverage private investment, make America the world’s builders once again, and close the deficit in our infrastructure investments.” (March 15, 2011).
U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donahue: “A national infrastructure bank is a great place to start securing the funding we need to increase our mobility, create jobs, and enhance our global competitiveness.” (March 15, 2011).
AFL-CIO: “A broad coalition of union, business, government and academic leaders has called for creation of a National Infrastructure Bank (NIB) that not only would propel the rebuilding of the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, but also would be a major job-creating engine.” (January 22, 2010).