Lipinski Releases Statement on Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Mica's Six-Year Surface Transportation Reauthorization Proposal (July 7, 2011)
“This morning, Chairman Mica unveiled a comprehensive surface transportation authorization bill that will set the framework for funding America’s road, bridge, transit, and rail projects over the next six years.
“As northern Illinois’ most senior member of the Committee, I have long called for a robust, multi-year transportation reauthorization that will put people back to work immediately and ensure both northeastern Illinois and America remains competitive in the global marketplace. In 2009 I was proud to help author and pass a $500 billion surface transportation blueprint through the Highways and Transit Subcommittee that would help meet those objectives. Unfortunately, we were not able to get that bill enacted. Today, we are looking at a bill that would provide only $230 billion in federal investment over six years. This represents at least a 30 percent cut in what we need simply to maintain existing programs. A reduction of this magnitude would clearly have serious consequences for Illinois and the nation.
“We must do everything possible to find additional sources of revenue to fund America’s infrastructure needs. Akey but underutilized component to funding transportation projects is private sector investment, and I’ve proposed that creating a national infrastructure bank and enhancing existing surface transportation financing programs, particularly TIFIA and RRIF, will attract additional private sector money that will increase the pool of funding available for certain transportation projects.
“I’m pleased to see Chairman Mica is seeking to leverage private sector investment with the inclusion of provisions in this bill that may better encourage state infrastructure banks and provide additional funding for TIFIA to help meet the existing demand for low interest loans for surface transportation projects. I also look forward to examining the rail title of the legislation, which presents an opportunity to streamline the RRIF loan application process and encourage greater private rail participation in the program. These are common sense steps I have called for that will greatly benefit any future surface transportation bill.
“At the same time, teaming up with the private sector can only provide a portion of the funding necessary. Based on my conversations with stakeholders and the funding levels provided, I remain deeply concerned about the amount of public investment in the proposal put forward today. I understand that Chairman Mica is under tremendous constraints based on the budget plan passed by the Republican majority in the House. But we must find a way to do more, because America cannot afford to continue to neglect our transportation infrastructure. Doing so will not only mean lost time and money for all American commuters, but it will hurt American economic growth because of the inefficiencies in transporting goods. Americans need jobs, and a robust surface transportation infrastructure bill can help get more Americans to work.
“I look forward to reviewing the bill in its entirety and engaging my colleagues in a serious conversation about how we can generate the funding levels necessary to create good paying jobs today and provide for the economic prosperity of our future.”
(July 7, 2011)