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Funding Methods Temper Enthusiam For Obama's $50 Billion Infrastructure Plan

Construction interests welcomed a major transportation infrastructure investment proposal President Obama outlined on Labor Day in Milwaukee, yet question how it might be funded—through budget offsets or additional deficit spending—and if it is a stand-alone measure or part of a prospective authorization succeeding the (2004-2009) SAFETEA highway legislation

Sources: CP staff; Associated General Contractors of America, Washington, D.C.; National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, Silver Spring, Md.

Construction interests welcomed a major transportation infrastructure investment proposal President Obama outlined on Labor Day in Milwaukee, yet question how it might be fundedÛthrough budget offsets or additional deficit spendingÛand if it is a stand-alone measure or part of a prospective authorization succeeding the (2004-2009) SAFETEA highway legislation.

The president envisions working with Congress on a $50 billion up-front surface transportation and aviation outlay, dovetailing with a six-year program to include: rebuilding of 150,000 miles of roads; constructing or maintaining 4,000 miles of rail; and, rebuilding or retrofitting 150 miles of airport runways. He also proposes reforms that would establish a federal infrastructure bank; integrate high-speed rail on equal footing in the surface transportation program; use performance measurement and race to the top-style competitive pressures to drive investment toward better policy; and, expand investment in safety, environmental sustainability, economic competitiveness, and livability.

"The President clearly appreciates that the infrastructureÒfocused portions of the stimulus were effective in boosting employment and helping rebuild America's aging infrastructure. And, while the most effective sequel to the stimulus is passing a fully funded sixÒyear surface transportation bill, countless thousands of construction workers will have a better chance of retaining their jobs thanks to this proposal than they otherwise would once the stimulus runs its course, noted AGC CEO Steve Sandherr in a statement. "We are anxious to learn more about the president's proposal, and hope [it] receives the bipartisan consideration and support investing in our country's economic infrastructure merit[s].

In a statement following the Labor Day address, AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department President Mark Ayers noted, In a time of economic weakness, investments in our nation's infrastructure can provide short-term economic vigor, while building a foundation to better increase our economy's productive capacity. Infrastructure investment has historically been a bipartisan issue that attracted support from both conservatives and liberals. America's Building Trades Unions stand ready to engage lawmakers of all political persuasions to fashion a workable solution to repair and rebuild America in order to achieve sustained prosperity.