Rhode Island General Treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo has proposed a municipal infrastructure bank to help cities and towns obtain funding for infrastructure upgrades.
Raimondo said the bank would serve as a "one-stop shop." It would expand and manage the municipal road and bridge revolving fund and establish a formula to fund ongoing maintenance; create a green bank to enable communities and homeowners to retrofit buildings; create a school building authority to stimulate construction and capital improvements.
"Much of the burden of maintaining roads and bridges falls on our municipalities, whose property taxes are already too high, and budgets too tight," Raimondo said in a statement.
According to Raimondo, existing funding sources would pay for most of her plan. The green bank, she said, would be capitalized using money now allocated to the Rhode Island Commerce Corp.'s renewable energy fund.
The funding formula, she added, would probably require $10 million to $20 million per year to aid municipalities. Additionally, the revolving fund would need about $40 million over 20 years, enabling Rhode Island to invest more than $400 million in roads and bridges.
Last year, the American Society of Civil Engineers said 70% of Rhode Island's roads are of poor or mediocre quality. Its report said 156 of 757 bridges, or 21%, are structurally deficient while an additional 255, or 34%, are functionally obsolete.
Moody's Investors Service rates the state's general obligation bonds Aa2, while Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's assign AA ratings.