AGC Chief cites deferred infrastructure investment flaws in Obama, House budget proposals

Source: Associated General Contractors of America, Washington, D.C.

AGC Chief Executive Officer Stephen Sandherr responded to changes or cuts in federal transportation and environmental infrastructure program funding, outlined in President Obama’s proposed 2012 budget and U.S. House Republicans’ proposed 2011 continuing budget resolution:

“It is encouraging to see the President appreciates the difference between wasteful spending and essential transportation investments needed to boost overall economic growth and protect Americans from later, larger fiscal liabilities … We are, however, concerned by the Administration’s proposal to transform the Highway Trust Fund into a Transportation Trust Fund that would fund high speed rail, Amtrak, ‘livability’ grants and other Administration priorities.

“The Administration promises to use existing gas tax and other revenue sources only to continue funding highway and transit projects. However, it is hard to take this proposal seriously when the Administration has yet to identify how it will pay for the other programs it wants to add to the Trust Fund. This portion of the proposal appears more like an effort to obscure overall spending levels than to actually create a viable new role for the Trust Fund.”

“More broadly,” Sandherr explains, “the Administration’s and House Republicans’ proposals to cut billions from clean and drinking water programs, waterway maintenance, airport improvements and public building upkeep will undermine long-term efforts to reduce the federal deficit. Repairing broken water mains, dredging silted-over ports and fixing out-of-service locks will cost the federal government far more than investing in needed maintenance would today.

“We understand and strongly support the need to cut spending and reduce the federal deficit. That is why we will be working over the coming weeks and months to help Washington officials make the kind of reforms and spending cuts that reduce both short-term spending and protect Americans from long-term financial liabilities.”