WASHINGTON — New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined three other mayors of metropolitan cities at a Senate Banking Committee hearing yesterday to push for more federal funding for transportation infrastructure, warning that state and local governments can no longer shoulder the costs alone.
Bloomberg, along with Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, Jacksonville, Fla., Mayor John Peyton,and Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Mark Funkhouser, said a national infrastructure bank would be one way to help with the estimated $1.6 trillion needed over the next five years to maintain current infrastructure.
The mayors, whose cities have each committed to major infrastructure projects, threw their support behind the National Infrastructure Bank Act, S. 1926, which would create a national infrastructure bank that could issue up to $60 billion of taxable tax credit bonds to help states and their public authorities to finance mass transit, roads, bridges, and other projects. The measure is sponsored by Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the banking committee, and Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., a committee member.
"The bank would create an independent and nonpartisan entity that would fund the most vital needs," Bloomberg said in his opening statement. "The bank's nonpartisan structure would also help ... instill ... clear performance standards and accountability measures into projects."
Bloomberg called the lack of investment in the nation's infrastructure a "national suicide," and adding that "we take enormous risks in the world" but lack a vision for the nation at home.
"The expense is far too large, and the challenges too far-reaching to be adequately addressed by local and municipal governments alone," Funkhouser said. "Only the federal government has resources to match the scale of the problems."
Dodd said the committee will likely vote on the bill in July, but suggested it may not be approved by Congress this year.