An opinion piece in the Washington Examiner discusses the importance of reliable infrastructure and how it helps address the economic, demographic, fiscal, and environmental challenges faced by the public and private sectors.
From the article,
Concrete, steel and fiber-optic cable are the essential building blocks of the economy. Infrastructure enables trade, powers businesses, connects workers to their jobs, creates opportunities for struggling communities and protects the nation from an increasingly unpredictable natural environment. From private investment in telecommunication systems, broadband networks, freight railroads, energy projects and pipelines, to publicly spending on transportation, water, buildings and parks, infrastructure is the backbone of a healthy economy.
However, the article continues to mention some of the funding challenges.
Despite the importance of infrastructure, the U.S. has not spent enough for decades to maintain and improve it.
Split between Republicans and Democrats, the federal government appears incapable of doing this. For the foreseeable future, the Highway Trust Fund, the State Revolving Funds for water and others will face cuts and squeezed budgets. Other experiments, such as a National Infrastructure Bank, seem prohibitively complex in the current political environment. And of course, rising interest costs on federal debt, increases in entitlement spending and declining traditional revenue sources such as the gasoline tax mean that competition for limited resources is fiercer than ever.
Some cities and states are enjoying budget surpluses because property and sales tax revenues. But most localities will take years to build back their reserves, repay additional debt incurred during the recession and pay for deferred maintenance on infrastructure.
Maryland’s counties are facing this dilemma. Reductions to local transportation funding have left counties struggling to maintain and preserve their roadways.
MACo’s top legislative initiative for the 2015 session is “Local Transportation Funding Restoration.” MACo urges State policymakers to take the necessary steps to restore local roadway infrastructure.