October 30, 2008

Thursday Headlines: Capitol Hill Looks at Infrastructure Investment, Stimulus

Posted in National at 1:15 pm by bengann

Contractors, economists, CEOs, elected officials and heads of local and state government agencies all testified before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure yesterday on the need for billions of dollars in infrastructure investment as part of any proposed economic stimulus legislation.

The hearing titled, “Investing in Infrastructure: The Road to Recovery,” included several witnesses who spoke about how increased investment in water infrastructure could help the economy recover faster. Infrastructure investment as part of an economic stimulus package has been proposed to help create jobs, spur investment in local communities and address deferred maintenance on water infrastructure projects.

Lisa Lambert of Reuters does a good job in describing the legislative context for an economic stimulus bill that could include funding for needed infrastructure investment.

U.S. state leaders, trade groups and economists descended on the House of Representatives on Wednesday to help work out a second economic stimulus bill that one influential Congressional member said would be introduced on November 17.

Representative Jim Oberstar, the Minnesota Democrat who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told a hearing on jump-starting the stalled economy that Congressional staff would be meeting throughout the month and a stimulus bill would be introduced when Congress reconvenes next month.

Robert Pear of The New York Times reports on yesterday’s hearing:

Business executives and Republicans joined Democrats and labor unions in clamoring Wednesday for a multibillion dollar initiative to stimulate the economy with more federal spending on roads and bridges, waterways, airports, railways, schools and energy-saving technology.

Colby Itkowitz of Congressional Quarterly (subscription required) describes the legislative climate for the economic stimulus proposal.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee staff were expected Wednesday to start piecing together the infrastructure investment component of a pending stimulus package.

At the request of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the panel held a hearing with three sets of witnesses ranging from governors to economists to transportation experts to discuss the plan to stimulate the economy with new infrastructure jobs.

Terry Dillon, President of the National Utility Contractors Association and Owner of Atlas Excavating, stated in his written testimony:

The water infrastructure market has gone from bad to worse in recent years. In addition to the ongoing cuts in federal funding to refurbish these systems, state budgets have been hit hard because of the downturn in the housing market, which in turn has lowered revenues from property taxes…

The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), which represents the nation’s publicly owned wastewater treatment agencies, recently surveyed its members to find out just how many projects are out there “ready-to-go,” meaning construction could begin within 90 days. Responses from 22 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia indicated that approximately $3 billion in wastewater infrastructure projects could move to construction within 90 days if the funding were available. In fact, many of these projects could go to construction phase in as little as 30 days. From a national perspective, NACWA contends, and NUCA agrees, that there are at least $10 billion in ready to-go projects across the country.

Additionally, the Council of Infrastructure Financing Authorities (CIFA) and the Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators (ASIWPCA) recently compiled a list of wastewater infrastructure projects valued at $9.5 billion dollars that could most likely begin within a matter of months if funding were provided.

In her testimony, Judith Enck, New York’s Deputy Secretary for the Environment, said:

Infrastructure funding provides directs assistance to the nation’s “Main Streets.” In fact, various analysts estimate that for every $1 billion invested in infrastructure projects, some 35,000-47,500 jobs are created or supported…

If Congress provides an additional $6.5 billion for the Clean Water SRF projects in an economic stimulus package–an appropriation we strongly support–New York would receive $715 million, creating 30,000 jobs.

Editor’s note: I did not post a blog entry because I was at the hearing.

1 Comment »

  1. Allen Taylor said,

    Nice writing. You are on my RSS reader now so I can read more from you down the road.

    Allen Taylor

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