By: Martin J. Milita, Jr. Esq., Sr. Director.
A bipartisan group of 11 senators, led by Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.) have again introduced legislation that would create infrastructure financing authority to help local and state governments leverage private funding for key infrastructure projects. The BRIDGE (Building and Renewing Infrastructure for Development and Growth in Employment ) Act (S.1589), would establish an independent federal lending agency led by a seven-member board of directors and a CEO, all of whom must show financial management expertise and be confirmed by the Senate. “Having project finance experts in-house will help states and localities go toe-to-toe with private sector partners to ensure that taxpayers are getting good value for our investments through public-private partnerships,” Warner explained in a press release.
The Infrastructure Financing Authority would receive up to $10 billion in seed money, which it would use to provide up to 49 percent of a project’s total cost in the form of low-interest loans and loan guarantees. Funding would be made available for all types of transportation infrastructure and water/sewer and energy transmission projects. To be eligible, projects in urban areas would have to cost at least $50 million. Five percent of the agency’s funding would be dedicated to rural projects, which must cost at least $10 million.
The authority would be set up as a wholly owned government corporation, like the Export-Import Bank and Ginnie Mae. The authority is intended to become self-sustaining through the receipt of payments of fees and risk premiums on loans and loan guarantees.
The legislation would create an Office of Technical and Rural Assistance within the authority that would provide technical assistance to state and local governments and parties in public-private partnerships in developing and financing eligible infrastructure projects, including those in rural areas. The office also would create a regional infrastructure accelerator programs that would identify suitable projects and help localities make the best public use of innovative financing tools.
“Infrastructure has long been an integral part of our economy. Across Missouri and the nation, our farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and workers rely on strong infrastructure and transportation systems to move goods and services as quickly as possible,” Blunt said. “By working together on this bipartisan legislation, we can provide a new tool to help finance infrastructure projects, create good-paying jobs, and position American businesses, large and small, to succeed in the global market.” (Credit AP).
The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. No hearings for the bill have been scheduled.
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