AASHTO, the national association of State DOTs, reports in their weekly transportation report: “While debate about job creation continued in Washington this week, the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness met Tuesday in Pittsburgh. The council released a report urging the federal government to “invest aggressively and efficiently in cutting-edge infrastructure.”
The jobs council — comprised of 27 leaders from business, labor, and academia — issued recommendations that include:
- Reauthorize the Main Surface Transportation Programs;
- Focus on Performance and Accountability;
- Leverage and Expand Existing Public-Private Financing Mechanisms to Increase Private Capital for Infrastructure Investment;
- Create a New National Infrastructure Financing Organization that Complements Existing Programs and Attracts Private Capital to Infrastructure Projects;
- Protect and Preserve the User-Based Funding of the Highway Trust Fund;
- Speed Implementation of the Next Generation Air Traffic Control System;
- Streamline Permitting and Approval Processes for Jobs-Rich Infrastructure Projects;
- Streamline Regulations to Create Substantial Change and Targeted, Immediate Impact; and
- Reform Permitting Processes to Accelerate Job Creation.
The Infrastructurist has a very good summary:
The report also highlights a huge issue — the lengthy permitting procedures and regulations that cripple many large infrastructure projects, and virtually assure that few if any construction jobs can be created quickly. The council calls for the government to designate a lead federal agency on each project, and encourage greater cooperation between the state and federal agencies that are charged with reviewing projects.
This being a council of business leaders, it’s no surprise that they recommended more public-private financing for investment in roads, schools, water systems, and other public works. And in a move that seems almost nostalgic (since so many people have been calling for its creation for so long), the group called for a National Infrastructure Bank, which would, of course, mix money from federal, local and private-sector sources to fund large projects.
Granted, there are plenty of hurdles to be leapt — every one of these recommendations will face significant opposition in Congress. But the experts on the panel have given a nice boost to infrastructure spending from one of the most powerful groups we have – the leaders of the private sector. It helps that the council members — which include GE CEO Jeff Immelt — are putting their money where their mouths are: several of them have launched their own training programs for manufacturing jobs, in an attempt to create a model for the federal government to replicate. The report even states that its authors have started a private-sector initiative to create 10,000 more engineering graduates in the U.S. each year, by working with universities to recruit and retain engineering students,” (President’s Jobs Council Says ‘Invest in Infrastructure’)
The President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness’s one-page summary of infrastructure recommendations is available at bit.ly/PCJCinfra and its one-page summary of regulatory reform recommendations is available at invent.ge/PCJCregreform. The council’s full 52-page report to the president is available at invent.ge/PCJCfull.
Larry Ehl is the founder and publisher of Transportation Issues Daily. In the public sector, Larry was Federal Relations Manager for Washington State DOT; Chief of Staff to US Senator Slade Gorton; and was twice elected to the Edmonds School Board.