WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, commented today on the insufficient infrastructure funding in both the House and Senate Stimulus bills. Senator Inhofe also released a letter he sent last week with EPW Chairman Boxer and committee members Sen. Baucus and Sen. Voinovich to Senate Appropriators stressing the importance of robust infrastructure funding.
"Whenever I hear people talk about the stimulus, the first thing they mention is infrastructure and ready to go projects,” Inhofe said. “Yet I’m concerned that the amounts of money for infrastructure in both House and Senate Appropriations bills are alarmingly low considering the total package is over $800 billion. I want to make sure that the stimulus bills adequately fund our deteriorating infrastructure. There needs to be truth in advertising. You can't say the stimulus is an infrastructure investment bill when highway improvement makes up less than 4% of both the House and Senate’s proposed packages. I am working with a number of Senators from both sides of the aisle to craft an amendment to dramatically increase the level of highway investment in the Stimulus.”
In a letter sent to Senate Appropriators last week by Senator Inhofe, along with EPW Chairman Boxer and committee members Sen. Baucus and Sen. Voinovich, stressed the importance of robust infrastructure funding being provided in any stimulus package that comes from Congress. The letter was in response to concern over the inadequate $30 billion funding level for the Federal-Aid Highways program included in the House Appropriations Committee stimulus bill released on January 15th. The Senate Appropriations Committee stimulus bill includes only $27 billion for highways and bridges.
The following are excerpts from the January 23, 2009, letter addressed to the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Inouye, and Ranking Member Senator Cochran:
*Transportation infrastructure is one of the best forms of stimulus spending that the government has at its disposal. The economic benefits from transportation investment include both the immediate job creation from construction in addition to the long term economic benefits associated with the completed project. According to economists, every $1 billion spent on infrastructure adds $3.4 billion to the gross domestic product. There is obviously an economic need for a stimulus and infrastructure investment can clearly deliver the needed results.
*The Department of Transportation recently estimated that for every $1 billion invested in highways and bridges at the Federal level, which is also matched by state funding, 34,800 jobs are created or maintained. We believe that the appropriate level of highway funding in the stimulus should create or maintain at least 2 million American jobs.
*According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the backlog of needed projects to simply maintain the current highway and bridge network is $495 billion. This includes projects that are ready to go as well as those that are not as far along in the process.
*Given the large number of ready to go highway projects and the economic benefits of highway investment, we believe the level of highway investment should be at least 10 percent of the total stimulus package.