Direct Federal Investment in Infrastructure Is Most Important

ICMA weighs in on important infrastructure debate.

ARTICLE | Feb 8, 2018
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With the infrastructure debate on the horizon in Washington, DC, ICMA checked in with members of its Governmental Affairs and Policy Committee (GAPC) on which federal actions are most important. ICMA also joined with other state and local government organizations to issue a press release encouraging federal infrastructure investment. 

There is little debate about the need for greater investment in the nation’s infrastructure, but less agreement on how to pay for it. The GAPC, made up of a geographically representative group of leaders from communities of all sizes across the country, ranked the importance of different federal actions that could increase the nation’s infrastructure investment. 

Most Important Federal Actions

  1. Direct federal investment in infrastructure.
  2. Increase the gasoline tax for the Highway Trust Fund.
  3. Find an alternative revenue source to increase funding for the Highway Trust Fund.
  4. Increase the capacity of existing federal lending programs to support transportation, water infrastructure, and rural utility infrastructure.

ICMA Executive Director Marc Ott reinforced the importance of a federal partnership to address the nation’s infrastructure needs: “Local governments make infrastructure investment a priority every day as they issue municipal bonds to fix our nation’s roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, schools, airports, and other public facilities. They stand ready to work with the private sector and the federal and state governments to catch up on the backlog of infrastructure needs.”

Regarding a potential federal incentive program to provide a 20 percent grant to local governments to invest in an infrastructure project, committee members said it was unlikely that their local or state government could fund 80 percent of an infrastructure project in order to receive a 20 percent federal matching grant. They ranked a combination of local, state, and private sector resources somewhat higher.

State and Local Governments: Let's Rebuild America

ICMA joined with the other state and local government organizations to release the following statement: The leading organizations that represent state and local governments – The Council of State Governments, International City/County Management Association, National Association of Counties, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Governors Association, National League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations, National Association of Development Organizations, National Association of County Engineers, and National Association of Regional Councils – released the following statement on the forthcoming infrastructure debate in Washington, D.C.:

“We welcome President Trump’s and Congress’ focus on infrastructure. A strong federal-state-local partnership will be critical to delivering a bipartisan infrastructure package that invests in every community.

“States and local governments know firsthand the needs of our communities and invest in infrastructure accordingly. This includes roads and bridges, airports, waterways and ports, transit, passenger rail, water and sewer systems, public facilities, energy, broadband and telecommunications networks.

“Along with other priorities, we look forward to working together to secure the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund. We welcome a renewed focus on streamlining the federal review process to help deliver urgently needed projects to build the America of the future. Additionally, we must find the correct balance between federal, state and local investments and private sector partnerships.  

“We stand ready to work with our federal partners to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure to meet the diverse, complex needs of our residents and ensure American competitiveness.”

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