Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a hearing titled, “The Long-term Value to U.S. Taxpayers of Low-cost Federal Infrastructure Loans.”
The hearing featured testimony from Dr. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum; Brian Motyl, assistant director of Finance at the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT); and Vicente Sarmiento, director of the Orange County Water District.
For more information on the witnesses’ testimonies click here.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“Today, the committee will examine the benefits of federal infrastructure leveraging programs to American tax payers.
“This is the seventh hearing our committee has held this year on improving our nation’s highways, bridges, and water projects.
“These hearings have shown infrastructure is critical to our nation’s prosperity.
“As America’s population and economy have grown, our infrastructure has not kept pace.
“Maintenance shortfalls and project backlogs have left many key elements of our transportation and water infrastructure in need of major repair or replacement.
“As a result, major infrastructure improvements are needed across the country to build, maintain, or replace these vital systems.
“Timely decisions and timely construction are keys to success.
“The sooner a project is built, the sooner it can have a positive impact on the lives of the people in the communities affected.
“Loan and loan-guarantee programs often allow expensive projects to be delivered in a timely fashion and at a reduced cost.
“These programs are: the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, TIFIA; the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, WIFIA; and the new Securing Required Funding for Water Infrastructure Now Act, the SRF-WIN Act.
“TIFIA loans have been used successfully for the construction of critical transportation infrastructure, and we expect to see similar success through WIFIA and the SRF-WIN.
“These programs enable state and local project sponsors to borrow money at lower long-term costs, and to complete construction years sooner than if funding was secured through other means.
“As we have heard in past hearings, leveraging federal funding to maximize investment is a tool the Trump administration strongly supports.
“Two of these leveraging programs are key components of America’s Water Infrastructure Act – the bipartisan legislation we passed unanimously through this committee last month.
“Based on our water infrastructure bill, the Congressional Budget Office or the CBO estimated the WIFIA program and the SRF-WIN program would receive appropriations of $400 million over two years.
“That expenditure would then be leveraged by state borrowing to generate $12 billion in new water infrastructure spending.
“Converting $400 million in federal resources into $12 billion in new infrastructure spending is exactly the kind of leveraging that President Trump has been calling for.
“This is particularly true for the SRF-WIN program, which is designed to help rural states.
“Such leveraging seems good for federal taxpayers and as well as states alike.
“Congressional rules dictate that all bills be scored by the CBO to assess the amount of taxpayer dollars that will be spent but also by the Joint Committee on Taxation, or JCT, to judge if any federal revenue will be lost.
“States use tax-free bonds for infrastructure projects.
“JCT assumes that the federal treasury will lose tax revenue when states borrow.
“Under this theory, the $12 billion in increased state infrastructure spending is presumed to cost the federal treasury $2.6 billion.
“The committee has addressed this scoring issue by cutting back the size of the SRF-WIN program.
“These changes will be reflected in the version of America’s Water Infrastructure Act that will soon be brought to the Senate floor.
“I believe that leveraging programs such as WIFIA, TIFIA, and now SRF-WIN are good for federal taxpayers since they enable states to address more of their infrastructure backlog.
“If states aren’t able to finance their infrastructure needs, federal taxpayers will inevitably be on the hook to directly fund more projects in the future.
“Today, former CBO Director and American Action Forum president Doug Holtz-Eakin will share his observations on how leveraging programs can generate economic growth and demonstrate benefits to the taxpayer far beyond any loss of federal revenue.
“We will also hear about successful projects using these programs in Delaware, and in Santa Ana, California.”