Earlier this month, the Obama Administration released their proposed budget for fiscal year 2016. The budget, which was designed with the hopes of bringing “middle class economics into the 21st century”, proposes focus and investment in such topics as research, education, training, and infrastructure repair.
According to whitehouse.gov, a “21st century economy requires a 21st century infrastructure”. If you’ve read any of my other blogs, you’ll agree that this very principal is what drives HJ3’s endeavors. It’s no mystery that America’s infrastructure is aged and horribly degraded, needing an alternative solution to the exponential costs of replacement. President Obama’s proposed budget seeks to tackle 5 areas of infrastructure that desperately need attention:
- Building stronger bridges
- Improving roads
- Building faster trains
- Improving broadband
As a result of these critical investments, the Administration expects:
- Thousands of new construction and engineering jobs
- Stronger communities
- Improved ease of business
The President’s proposed budget includes rebuilding our infrastructure with a $478 billion, six year surface transportation reauthorization, to be paid for with transition revenue from business tax reforms. The pro-growth reform will also require that companies pay US taxes on $2 trillion of funds that are already overseas, rather than being able to delay paying US tax indefinitely. The goal of the reauthorization proposal is twofold:
- Finance infrastructure repair for existing roads and bridges
- Modernize our infrastructure with new investments in highways, freight networks, and rail systems
The proposed budget also seeks to boost private investment in infrastructure repair through a Rebuild America Partnership, which establishes an independent National Infrastructure Bank to leverage private and public capital. The Partnership program supports infrastructure projects that are of particular significance on a national and regional level. Likewise, the budget creates America Fast Forward bonds, which are built on existing successful taxable bond programs, and new tax-exempt Qualified Public Infrastructure Bonds that will help states and local communities attract new sources of capital for infrastructure repair investments.
The Administration also plans to continue modernizing and improving Federal permitting processes for major infrastructure projects. These processes include:
- Cutting through red tape
- Getting more timely decisions on Federal permits and reviews
- Ensuring that projects lead to improvements for communities and the environment
Ultimately, $478 billion sounds like an extreme amount of money. But considering that our infrastructure repair and replacement is estimated to require in the trillions of dollars, this new proposed budget will only be able to affect the very tip of the degraded infrastructure iceberg. Still, it’s a start, and a baby step in the right direction.