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Infrastructure Must-Reads, February 24

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The staff of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Executive Council on Infrastructure share some recent publications, speeches, and testimony relevant to infrastructure policy and finance. The views expressed in these pieces do not necessarily represent the views of the council, its co-chairs, members, advisors or BPC.

Compiled by Nikki Rudnick, Aaron Klein, Andy Winkler and Jake Varn


No More Flints
By Former Congressman and Secretary Dan Glickman, The Huffington Post

“The dangerous water consumed by residents of Flint, MI is the canary in the coal mine of our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Poisoned water endangers the health or millions of Americans, especially children, and jeopardizes state and national economic vibrancy. This is bigger than just Flint, and many other cities particularly in the Midwest and Northeast have contaminated water systems. A recent study showed that lead levels in numerous Pennsylvania cities exceeded those measured in Flint’s water.

“Now is the time to act on a national plan to renovate infrastructure. Roads, bridges, sewage systems, water pipes, airports, all critical arteries for our nation’s economy and public health are in dire need of renovation. A massive investment in infrastructure renovation in this country will put people back to work, boost the economy in the short and long term and prevent future tragedies like the one in Flint from happening again.” Read the article.


Treasurer Releases Blueprint for Growth and Innovation: First Biennial Report Outlines Plan to Improve Infrastructure, Government Efficiency
California Office of the State Treasurer

“State Treasurer John Chiang today released an extensive blueprint for fixing California’s dilapidated roads, bridges and other infrastructure. The report also takes on many of the seemingly-intractable problems facing Californians today, from its affordable housing shortage and emerging retirement security crisis to local government bankruptcy and predatory-ADA lawsuits.

“The 25-page, document — ‘Building California’s Future Begins Today,’ expresses in detail the treasurer’s vision for modernizing public finance and creating better lives for all Californians.” Read the release. Read the report.


2015 Menino Survey of Mayors
Boston University, Initiative on Cities

“Mayors overwhelmingly believe that physical infrastructure is one of the greatest challenges facing their city. Mayors were asked to identify the greatest challenge they face which falls outside their control—in other words, a challenge that is typically the purview of other levels of government. ‘Think about the next five years and beyond. What ONE trend or issue that you primarily think should be a state and/or federal matter will pose the biggest challenge to your city?’ Importantly, this question did not query mayors about challenges to their cities generally, which was explored in last year’s report. Almost half of mayors selected infrastructure, which is a striking level of accord for an open-ended question. Nearly all of those who referenced infrastructure focused on a lack of funding for upkeep and improvements. As one mayor noted ‘The lack of spending on infrastructure is a failure at the local, state, and federal levels.’” Read the summary. Read the report.


Public-Private Partnerships for Transportation Categorization and Analysis of State Statutes
By Kevin Pula, National Conference of State Legislatures

“As part of its ongoing work to help state legislatures analyze the options available relative to transportation funding, NCSL has concisely categorized and compiled the provisions of state law addressing public-private partnerships (P3s) for transportation.

“In 2010, a working group of state legislators and industry experts convened by NCSL published comprehensive guidance on P3s for transportation, Public-Private Partnerships for Transportation: A Toolkit for Legislatures. This toolkit helps those states that wish to embark on P3s or amend existing law with several principles to consider when drafting legislation.” Read the summary. Read the report.


Speech: The Road to Opportunity – Anthony Foxx, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation
By Secretary Anthony Foxx, Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting

“Secretary Foxx discusses how transportation plays a critical role in connecting Americans and communities to economic opportunity. Access to reliable, safe, and affordable transportation for all Americans is central to USDOT’s agenda. The choices that are made regarding transportation infrastructure at the Federal, State and local levels can strengthen communities, create pathways to jobs and improve the quality of life for all Americans.” Watch the speech. Read the prepared remarks.


Obama Proposes P3 Tool to Help States Finance Infrastructure
By Liz Farmer, Governing

“In his State of the Union, the president proposed expanding a program that encourages state and local governments to pay for infrastructure projects with public-private partnerships.

“The so-called Qualified Public Infrastructure Bonds, or QPIBs, would expand an existing financing tool that allows state and local governments to issue tax-exempt bonds to pay for public infrastructure projects managed primarily by private companies. That program, Private Activity Bonds (PABs), has already been used to support financing for more than $10 billion of roads, tunnels and bridges. For example, tax exempt PABs were used to help finance 29 miles of managed express lanes on Interstate 95 in northern Virginia. Gov. Terry McAuliffe has said the $950 million project, which opened in December, would not have been possible without the partnership of Fluor Enterprises and Transurban, which invested $280 million in the project and will collect tolls and maintain the lanes until 2087.” Read the article.


FACT SHEET: President Obama’s 21st Century Clean Transportation System
Office of the Press Secretary, The White House

“As President Obama has repeatedly said, “no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.” At the same time, the President has made clear that taking steps to reduce carbon pollution presents an enormous opportunity to strengthen the economy, drive innovation, and create new jobs.

“A key step in that effort is making smart and strategic investments to create a cleaner, more sustainable transportation system. Today, our transportation sector accounts for 30 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. A new approach to our transportation system can help to speed goods to market, expand transportation options, and integrate new technologies like autonomous – or self-driving – vehicles while at the same time reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, cutting carbon pollution, and strengthening our resilience to the impacts of climate change.” Read the press release.


Comptroller Stringer Audit Reveals City Owns More Than 1,100 Vacant Lots That Could Be Used To Build Affordable Housing
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer

“With a housing affordability crisis that includes thousands of New Yorkers sleeping in shelters, an audit released by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer revealed that New York City owns over 1,100 vacant properties that could be used to site thousands of units of affordable housing.

“The Comptroller also issued a new report, Building an Affordable Future: The Promise of a New York City Land Bank, which outlines how the City could use a land bank to develop an estimated 57,000 units of permanently affordable housing units on these vacant lots, as well as on a smaller sub-set of privately-owned, tax-delinquent properties.” Read the audit. Read the report.

KEYWORDS: WHITE HOUSE, BOSTON, DAN GLICKMAN, ANTHONY FOXX, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION