Improving rail, roads, waterways, technology could fuel jobs and public safety efforts
National Infrastructure Bank could fund the projects and return money back to economy
HARRISBURG, Feb. 17 – Economic recovery, job creation, improved infrastructure and statewide development could benefit from a $4 trillion National Infrastructure Bank as discussed at today’s House Democratic Policy Committee hearing.
The committee heard testimony and held a roundtable discussion on how implementation of the National Infrastructure Bank would help the state improve broadband access, address transportation needs and invigorate the economy.
“We’re in need of a revolutionary approach to addressing technological and public safety needs. Invoking the National Infrastructure Bank would have impacts that reach every community of this state,” Policy Committee Chairman Ryan Bizzarro said.
State Rep. Ed Neilson, co-host of today’s hearing, added, “If we have an opportunity to bridge the digital divide for both cities and rural areas, we must take it. Ultimately, our future depends on this investment. We can improve the trajectory of our economic recovery, help develop a workforce for the future and be a leader in both.”
Macroeconomist Alphecca Muttardy noted that every $1 invested via the National Infrastructure Bank could generate a $3 to $7 return and that .09 cents of every dollar would go back to the state government in revenues. This return would help repay the low-interest loans used to fund projects.
Stanley Forczek, an infrastructure expert having previously served Amtrak, highlighted that Pennsylvania was previously acknowledged as a worldwide leader in railroads and now finds itself without much transportation useful to commuters and leisure travelers.
The next step is for state and federal legislators to collaborate and invoke the National Infrastructure Bank. The bank would generate funding for projects to improve transportation, wastewater management, broadband access, and public safety projects in suburban, rural, and urban communities across the commonwealth.
The committee also heard testimony from Erika White, president of Communications Workers of America Local 4319 and vice-president of NW Ohio AFL-CIO; and Randy Beightol, president of United Steel Workers Local 4907 and Northern Tier Central Labor Council. They highlighted the value that investing in projects would have for good-wage jobs, education, broadband infrastructure and industries including tourism.
A roundtable with Jack Hanna, former treasurer and interim chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party; Tara Zrinski, Northampton County councilwoman; Bobby Henon, Philadelphia city councilman; Anita Prizio, Allegheny County councilwoman; and former state Rep. James Roebuck, former Democratic chair of the House Education Committee, generated discussion on the need for stimulus in our economy that has direct impacts on state and local projects.
One of the best lines from this hearing was, “We can’t afford NOT to invest. The state and country are losing money in inefficiencies and public health and safety is in peril. We have the opportunity to right the course and provide good-wage jobs. It might sound too good to be true, but it’s not. This is one big action we can take that will have long-lasting, positive impacts on Pennsylvania and America,” Neilson said.
Neilson will soon reintroduce a resolution that would urge Congress to establish the National Infrastructure Bank.
“The National Infrastructure Bank is a bipartisan concept that our forefathers used to face the economic obstacles of their times and we can do the same,” Bizzarro said.
Additional information about the National Infrastructure Bank is available at www.nibcoalition.com.
Hearing materials and video are available by clicking here.