Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox and General Treasurer Gina Raimondo will introduce legislation Thursday to provide a funding stream for local infrastructure investment.
The proposal calls for the Rhode Island Clean Water Finance Agency to administer the Municipal Road and Bridge Revolving. Funding this initiative requires a long-term investment commitment from the state, which would enable municipalities to borrow a steady, discounted stream of funds in perpetuity.
Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s all rate the agency’s bonds triple-A.
Earlier this week, the American Society of Civil Engineers, in its state-by-state report card on infrastructure, said 70% of Rhode Island’s roads are of poor or mediocre quality. According to the report, 156 of its 757 bridges, or 21%, structurally deficient while a further 255, or 34%, are functionally obsolete.
“Establishing a predictable, innovative alternative for cities and towns to finance their road and bridge improvements is an important cornerstone to building a vibrant economy for our state,” Raimondo said in a statement.
Fox, a Providence Democrat, said that by establishing a sustainable funding stream, “municipalities will be able to make long-term plans separate from the uncertainty of the annual budget appropriations process.”
Raimondo and Fox plan to submit the legislation in the coming weeks. They say it will improve municipal access to capital at lower-rates for long-range planning and infrastructure investment, and provide local budget relief by lowering annual debt-service payments.
Rhode Island’s General Assembly established the agency in 1989 to administer certain federal and state programs that relate to municipal or community wastewater and drinking water financial assistance.