Hearings - Statement
 
Statement of Barbara Boxer
Hearing: Full Committee hearing entitled, "Innovative Project Finance."
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

(Remarks as prepared for delivery)

There is a growing consensus that smart investments in transportation are an important part of the solution to the serious economic challenges we are facing.

We must make sure that our existing infrastructure is sound, and plan for future investments that create jobs, maximize economic development, reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil, clean up our air, and strengthen our global competitiveness.

In these difficult economic times, it is more important than ever to look for tools that can stretch the resources we have. We need to get the maximum benefit from every transportation dollar.

Today’s hearing will focus on potential changes to federal surface transportation programs and funding that will encourage additional state, local and private investments in transportation, and accelerate the benefits of those investments.

The 30/10 initiative in Los Angeles County is an example of how timely federal assistance can leverage local investments in transportation.

In 2008 the citizens of Los Angeles County approved a half cent sales tax dedicated to transportation -- a powerful statement that the people of LA County are willing to help pay for a transportation system that they need now.

This measure, known as Measure R, will generate an estimated $40 billion over the next 30 years, including approximately $13 billion for transit projects throughout the county.

Mayor Villaraigosa, who I am very pleased has joined us again today, has advocated the idea that with federal assistance, Los Angeles could speed up delivery of the transit projects expected to be funded with Measure R so they can be funded over 10 rather than 30 years, hence the name “30/10 initiative.”

Accelerating projects would create an estimated 160,000 jobs while easing congestion and reducing dangerous pollution. That means healthier families -- and a healthier economy -- in the LA region.

I believe the 30/10 Initiative can serve as a model that can be replicated in many cities and states across this country.

As we develop the next comprehensive surface transportation law, we have the opportunity to make changes to programs that will leverage resources to create more jobs, and build the highway and transit systems our communities need faster.

For example, I have been looking at changes to part of the existing transportation law called the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act -- also known as TIFIA.

TIFIA helps communities leverage their transportation resources by providing loans and loan guarantees. According to the Federal Highway Administration, every dollar made available through TIFIA can mobilize up to a total of $30 in transportation investments.

That’s the kind of tool we need more of. TIFIA has been a successful program, but improvements are needed if it is going to achieve the kind of transformative results we all want to see moving forward.

Already, Mayors from across the country are asking for greater opportunities for this kind of innovative partnership. I would like to place into the record a resolution from the U.S. Conference of Mayors calling for expansion of TIFIA and bonding programs so communities can accelerate job creation and the other benefits of transportation improvements.

I also want to thank Transportation Secretary LaHood for his commitment to the 30/10 initiative and for agreeing to work on expanding this model in the upcoming transportation bill. You could not ask for a better partner when it comes to forward-thinking transportation issues.

I look forward to hearing from today’s witnesses on the best ways we can reform our national transportation policy so we can better serve the needs of local communities across the country.

We all know that a 21st century transportation system is essential to creating jobs and ensuring future economic prosperity.

Your ideas, your advice, and your engagement are vital ingredients as we move ahead.

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