Robert Puentes and Bruce Katz write about the reality of infrastructure funding:
The real crisis is that we’re fixing these problems the wrong way. People believe the federal government will come to the rescue through a National Infrastructure Bank, or boost spending through an increase in the gas tax.
But the federal government essentially can’t and won’t fix our national infrastructure.
This has significant implications for how America designs, finances, and delivers its infrastructure. In the future, true partnerships of government entities, private firms, financiers, and philanthropies outside of Washington will need to do the hard work to get stuff done.
Regardless of the precise arrangement, infrastructure financing is getting more complex. The federal government can and should play a helpful role by relaxing restrictions on tolling, providing low cost loans, and setting policy for national issues like freight movement. But Washington cannot and will not do enough to adequately fund the infrastructure America needs.
America’s infrastructure needs are daunting but not insurmountable. Nor is Washington’s drift and dysfunction an excuse for inaction. Our states, cities and metropolitan areas—and the private, public and civic institutions that lead them—have the talent and creativity to move the county forward in this area as in others. Now is the time to do so.
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