Friday, October 30, 2009

Senator Durbin Says Front Loaded Infrastructure Spending Should Be The Next Stimulus

Although no one has as yet proposed a specific mechanism for funding a six year, $500 billion reauthorization of the federal Highway Trust Fund, it seems everyone in Congress expects that will be the funding level once new revenues are decided upon. Illinois Senator and Majority Whip Dick Durbin suggested yesterday that one additional move the folks in Washington can make to further stimulate the economy would be to “front load” that spending, instead of using the money evenly across the six year time period.

Durbin’s idea is to allocate $150 billion to the first of the six years, accelerating road, bridge, transit and waterway construction projects to the present, while leaving $70 billion per year for the remaining five years of the reauthorization. Durbin is enlisting Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in his effort. While House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel has not proposed any revenue measure for funding the $500 billion, Durbin says Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus “has come up with enough money to take us through next year.”

Meanwhile, the continuing resolution attached to the Interior – Environment appropriation bill on its way to the Oval Office today extends the Highway Trust Fund at current levels through December 18, 2009, and Senate Environment and Public Works Chair Barbara Boxer is still at loggerheads with House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar respecting how to keep funding road projects currently underway until revenue measures supporting a six year reauthorization can be proposed and passed.
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