National bond program could help fund repairs
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, answering questions about the newly adopted state budget, noted that the budget contains $100 billion for infrastructure work for the next fiscal year. This, Cuomo compared with the federal budget for the next fiscal year, was half of the $200 billion asked for by the Trump administration.
With other states also budgeting billions of dollars to repair and renew our infrastructure, this presents a putrid attempt on the part of the federal government to meet the needs of our infrastructural failings. Pairing federal dollars with state money can get a return of between 21 and 93 cents in tax revenue for every federal dollar spent.
An example of this is the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program (SRF). An SRF program allocated for 2017 to 2021 of $34.7 billion was leveraged by $116.2 from the states for a total of $151 billion. This will result in $32.3 billion in federal tax revenue. In other words, a federal dollar ($34.7 billion) will return 93 cents ($32.3 billion) for each dollar spent.
Similar programs allocated for roads, bridges, airports, schools, harbors, electrical grids, internet, etc, can – over a real 10-year investment – create jobs and be accomplished with minimal effects on the deficit. It is estimated that a full program to meet our infrastructure needs would cost somewhere between $3.5 trillion and $4.5 trillion. A 10-year $1 trillion federal investment program, when leveraged by state monies, could accomplish meeting the estimated needs.
What is needed is a well-organized, nationally advertised bond program similar to those that funded World War II. Offered over a 3- to 4-year program, bonds bought with tax-free dollars and yielding tax-free dollars would go a long way to meeting the needed funds to satisfy the program without busting the deficit budget.