Editor's Report

By Aram Kalousdian | September 28, 2010

A total of 13 governors from across the country recently declared their support for increasing federal funding to rebuild America's aging infrastructure by joining the Building America's Future coalition. Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm is supporting the initiative.

The month-old, nonpartisan coalition is co-chaired by Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

The Building America's Future coalition will be comprised of state- and locally elected officials from around the nation and will become a repository of best practices on infrastructure funding issues. In the short term, the coalition will work with the presidential candidates and the platform committees of the national political parties to ensure that the next president understands the enormity of the infrastructure crisis and is committed to increasing federal funding.

As state and local governments continue to pay more of the costs and the condition of our infrastructure further deteriorates, America's infrastructure crisis becomes more critical everyday. One of the primary jobs of the coalition is to create an environment where infrastructure funding is treated like the national priority it should be.

Meanwhile, states are making more investments. Governor Rendell proposed that Pennsylvania invest more than $700 million in state funds over the next three years in infrastructure. His Rebuilding Pennsylvania initiative, unveiled this month during his budget address, will accelerate progress to repair at least 1,000 bridges, all state-owned high-hazard dams, and help local governments repair their dams. In addition, capital funds will provide targeted infrastructure improvements to expand rail freight and aviation facilities and mitigate flooding. Governor Schwarzenegger agreed.

"We have Republicans, Democrats and Independents from all across the nation," Schwarzenegger said. "And we are joining together for one reason — to force Washington to get serious about building our nation's infrastructure. Everyone here knows this is a big national problem that affects our economy and endangers our communities."

"Last month, our representatives in Washington missed an important opportunity when they passed an economic stimulus package that did not include the kind of infrastructure investments that creates jobs and spurs economic growth over the long term," said Mayor Bloomberg who was unable to attend the event. "We can't afford to continue taking such a short-sighted approach. We need a new federal commitment to investing in the infrastructure America needs, not the pork-barrel projects politicians want. Mayors and governors understand how important this is — that's why we've formed this nonpartisan coalition, and it's encouraging to see it continue to grow today."

The co-chairs urged state and local elected officials who support greater federal investments in infrastructure to join the Building America's Future coalition by registering at www.InvestInInfrastructure.org. For the coalition to be most effective in lobbying the federal government, it is critically important that a broad cross section of elected officials from all political parties, all geographic areas, and all levels of government are represented in Building America's Future.

Despite significant state and local infrastructure investments in Pennsylvania, California, and New York, N.Y., the co-chairs recognize that there are important infrastructure projects that cannot be funded because there are simply not enough capital dollars to go around.

As a share of non-defense federal expenditures, federal infrastructure spending has steadily declined since 1966. For the past 20 years, federal spending on infrastructure has averaged just 3-1/2 percent to 4 percent of total non-defense expenditures. Between 1956 and 1966, infrastructure spending as a share of total non-defense federal expenditures was approximately 10 percent.

Today, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates the national infrastructure needs at more than $1 trillion over the next five years.

Since the coalition was announced in California on January 19, Democratic and Republican presidential candidates have talked about the need for national infrastructure investment. Additional information about the coalition is available at www.InvestInInfrastructure.org.