4 Essential Reads on Infrastructure Financing

Here's a look at some recent resources to help better understand the ins and outs of infrastructure financing.

ARTICLE | Jan 19, 2018
Image of bridge

Is U.S. water and transportation infrastructure on the brink of failure or are reports of impending disaster exaggerated? Last month, RAND corporation released a study Not Everything Is Broken: The Future of U.S. Transportation and Water Infrastructure Funding and Finance, which declares that most infrastructure is adequately maintained. “This study adds a very informative layer to the ongoing infrastructure conversation,” says ICMA Director of Policy Research Joshua Franzel. “Importantly, it reiterates the roles all levels of government have--collectively--in ensuring that overall, available funding is adequate and that infrastructure assets are well maintained and enhanced.”

 ICMA has released a number of resources that help paint a comprehensive picture of how projects are being financed today and options that local governments are exploring.

  • This 2015 white paper jointly released by ICMA and GFOA, Municipal Bonds and Infrastructure Development—Past, Present, and Future, by Justin Marlowe, points out that more than 90% of state and local capital spending is financed via municipal bonds and reinforces the need for continuing the federal tax exemption for these bonds which saved states and localities over $700 billion in interest expense between 2000 and 2014.
  • While municipal bonds are central to infrastructure financing, in its 2017white paper, Public-Private Partnerships (P3s): What Local Government Managers Need to Know, by Lawrence Martin  ICMA explored the various types of P3s, along with risks, challenges, and opportunities presented by these arrangements.
  • The graphics below come from a 2016 survey conducted by ICMA that included seven questions on how local governments pay for and assess their infrastructure needs.
  • For a real meat-and-potatoes guide to infrastructure assets and financing, check out this resource released by ICMA and GFOA last year: Infrastructure Financing for Local Government Managers, which outlines traditional and emerging funding sources, financing mechanisms, and financial arrangements. 


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