Recently, as lawmakers continue to debate infrastructure bills, a new report released by the Center for American Progress proposes a plan to enable significant progress in bringing America’s infrastructure up to par. In addition to proposing a new level of federal investment and how to pay for it, the report outlines a set of critical reforms to how the federal government funds, prioritizes, finances, and plans for infrastructure improvements.
The paper, “Meeting the Infrastructure Imperative,” calls for increasing the nation’s infrastructure investment by $129 billion a year over the next 10 years, describes our country’s infrastructure spending needs by category, and details where the new investments should be focused.
The paper also proposes a strategy to raise the necessary revenue through increases in specific sources of revenues, including a fee on imported oil, elimination of antiquated and expensive oil tax breaks, and modest increases to a limited number of infrastructure user fees.
To successfully bring the nation’s infrastructure up to par with levels of investment, the report recommends the following reforms:
• Update our user fee and tax code to index infrastructure-dedicated taxes and excise fees to inflation and ensure a predictable flow of revenues to support a consistent and more robust level of federal infrastructure investment.
• Enact federal infrastructure allocation formulas based on objective measures of costs, need, and benefits—and require states and localities to do the same. Current formulas for the transportation funds, for instance, do not adequately take into account need for improvements needed to address congestion in spite of the fact that congestion is a leading cause of accidents and rising costs for commuters and goods movement.
• Use federal policy tools to attract more private investment in infrastructure projects so that new large-scale improvements can be privately financed and paid for by users.
• Create a national infrastructure bank to optimize the level of private investment in infrastructure and ensure necessary large-scale and multistate infrastructure projects are undertaken.
• Create a national infrastructure planning council to integrate federal agency infrastructure planning across sectors and improve how we plan, procure, and manage the construction and repair of our public assets.
• Improve our federal and state infrastructure planning by employing a comprehensive, multisector approach based on objective metrics that allocate funds to projects that meet critical public safety, congestion, delays-to-goods movement, pollution, and other capacity challenges.
• Explore options to bring water infrastructure improvements under one roof and in an agency that can give priority focus to improvements needed for our water treatment, dams, levees, ports, and inland waterway systems.
• Increase the degree to which we are making progress repairing existing infrastructure.
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