Sanders, Dem Senate leaders unveil $1 trillion infrastructure plan

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Sanders, Dem Senate leaders unveil $1 trillion infrastructure plan

Tue, 01/24/2017 - 3:34pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) joined Senate Democratic leaders Tuesday to announce a 10-year, $1 trillion proposal to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure and create 15 million middle-class jobs. The proposal, “Blueprint to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure,” would rebuild roads, bridges, railways, water systems, broadband networks, VA hospitals, schools and airports throughout the United States.

“Look, this is kind of a ‘no-brainer.’ Whether you are in the state of Vermont or the state of California, you understand that our infrastructure is crumbling: our roads, our bridges, our water systems, our wastewater plants, our airports, our levies and our dams,” Sanders told a Capitol news conference.

“What we need to do is to invest $1 trillion over the next 10 years to rebuild that crumbling infrastructure. We used to lead the world. The United States was No.1 in the quality of our infrastructure. Today, we are No. 12,” said Sanders, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.

“When we rebuild our infrastructure, we rebuild the middle class because we can create up to 15 million decent-paying jobs in all areas of life: in urban America, in rural America, for all of our people,” Sanders added.

Leahy, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said:  “In Vermont, we know the infrastructure needs of rural communities are unique. This blueprint makes investments in rural communities to keep our downtowns vibrant, to expand broadband access, and grow our economy.  Our children and grandchildren, and the generations to follow, need real leadership and real action, and this blueprint puts us on the right path.”

The American Society of Civil Engineers says the United States must spend $1.6 trillion above current levels to get our infrastructure to a state of good repair. Today, the United States spends less on infrastructure, as a percent of the gross domestic product, than at any time in the past 20 years.

“President Trump campaigned on rebuilding the infrastructure. Let’s do it, but let’s do it in a way that does not provide huge tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country and to the largest corporations,” Sanders said. “I hope very much that this is an issue where all of us can get together because it is certainly something the American people want.”

In Vermont, $700 million a year is needed through 2018 to get roads to a state of good repair, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, which also notes that 30 percent of Vermont’s bridges are deficient and 16 percent of Vermont’s dams are classified as high or significant-hazard potential.

Vermont’s infrastructure, the group said, also requires: $510 million over the next 20 years to be invested in the community drinking water systems and an additional $156 million in funds for annual repairs and upgrades to Vermont’s wastewater and storm water facilities.

“President Trump campaigned on rebuilding the infrastructure. Let’s do it, but let’s do it in a way that does not provide huge tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country and to the largest corporations,” Sanders said. “I hope very much that this is an issue where all of us can get together because it is certainly something the American people want.”

The Blueprint to Rebuild America's Infrastructure and Create 15 Million Jobs includes the following investments:

·         $210B to repair crumbling Roads and Bridges, saving the average American family over $1,700 a year

o   Reconstructing Roads and Bridges will create 1.3 Million New Jobs

§  Will provide federal funding to repair structurally deficient bridges in the Federal-aid Highway System, to ensure efficient shipping and passenger travel. Some funding will be on an incentive basis to encourage States and MPOs to set and achieve ambitious performance goals.

o   Expanding the TIGER Grant program will create 130,000 New Jobs

§  By increasing funding to TIGER, we will enable more projects to be funded, ensuring more communities are able to make transformative investments in transportation and expand economic opportunities.

o   Rebuilding Main Streets will create 1.3 Million New Jobs

§  This proposal will ensure the funding gaps for local priorities are closed and will help to support rebuilding America’s Main Streets. These new sources of funding would be available to cities, towns, and rural communities, to address their unique housing and infrastructure challenges.

·         $110B for a new Water & Sewer program that will provide local communities and taxpayers with federal grants, not just loans

o   Water & Sewer program will create 2.5 Million New Jobs

o   The majority of America’s water and sewer systems were built over 50 years ago and in some cases as much as 100 years old.

o   This program proposes a major increase in Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRF), and new flexibility to grant funding to communities as grants, rather than loans.

·         $180B to replace & expand Rail and Bus Systems, that are crumbling making the daily commute safer & cheaper for millions of Americans

o   Modernizing rail infrastructure will create 650,000 New Jobs

o   Repairing and Improving Public Transportation will create 1.7 Million New Jobs

·         $200B for a new Vital Infrastructure Projects (VIP) program that will direct major federal investments to the most critical national projects

o   VIP will create 2.6 Million New Jobs

o   This program will help to jumpstart innovative projects that connect communities from coast to coast and would be available for priority projects for all modes of surface transportation.

·         $75B to rebuild America’s Schools, ensuring our next generation learns in a State -of-the-Art Environment without raising local property taxes

o   Strengthening America’s Public Schools will create 975,000 New Jobs

§  This addresses the urgent need for public school modernization funds, which the Secretary of Education can distribute on a formula basis to the public schools with the greatest and most urgent needs within economically-distressed and high-poverty communities.

·         $70B to modernize America’s Ports, Airports, & Waterways helping US manufacturers be more competitive, and building resilient communities

o   Improving Airports and Airspace will create 390,000 New Jobs

o   Addressing Ports and Water Ways will create 195,000 New Jobs

o   Building more resilient communities will create 325,000 New Jobs

·         $100B in new funding to build 21st century Energy Infrastructure, upgrade our failing power grid, and lower electric bills

o   Investing in Next Generation Energy infrastructure will create 1.3 Million New Jobs

§  This portion of the proposal will consolidate and reform existing tax incentives for clean, renewable energy. A permanent incentive would be given for electricity generation, transportation fuels, and energy efficiency improvements. In the end this would bring down consumer costs for energy.

·         $20B in funding to Expand Broadband access to millions of Americans

o   Expanding broadband access will create 260,000 New Jobs

o   This will fund the build out of high-speed broadband in unserved and underserved areas.

o   We also propose expanding the programs to enable grant recipients to use grant funds to deploy various types of infrastructure capable of offering, middle-mile, last-mile wired and wireless broadband access, and adding evaluation criteria in the awards process to ensure that the funding goes to the most effective and efficient uses. 

o   Finally, we propose ensuring additional funding is available to help upgrade our nation’s aging 9-1-1 system and other critical infrastructure technology.

·         $20B in funding to address critical infrastructure backlogs on Public Lands and in Indian country

o   The Public Lands funding will create 260,000 New Jobs

o   With this investment of federal funding we will support construction, maintenance and restoration projects at the four Federal land management agencies

§  National Parks Service

§  US Forrest Service

§  Bureau of Land Management

§  US Fish and Wildlife Service

o   We also propose significant federal funding, above current tribal set asides in other programs, for tribal health care facilities, schools, roads, public safety maintenance and other construction needs.

·         $10B to construct new Veterans Administration Hospitals & Extended Care Facilities for our nation's heroes, and upgrade Army National Guard Readiness Centers

o   Modernizing the VA and National Guard facilities will create 130,000 New Jobs

o   This investment will serve to address the backlog and ensure that our Veterans get the modern care they deserve, w for on-going and high priority major VA construction projects. In addition to help foster partnerships with States to construct high-priority extended care facilities, and help address Army National Guard capital backlogs.

·         $10B to support the creation of New Innovative Financing tools aimed at unlocking private pools of capital and increasing infrastructure investment

o   Creating New Innovative Financing will create 1.3 Million New Jobs

o   Propose the creation of a new infrastructure finance entity (‘I-Bank’) that would unlock private pools of capital to provide low-cost loans or loan guarantees for infrastructure projects across a broad range of sectors, including transportation, energy, affordable housing, and water infrastructure.

To read the Blueprint to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure, click here.

Source: Sanders. Leahy. 1.24.2017