Bipartisan Bennet Bill Aims to Help Colorado Build Critical Infrastructure

Bill Creates Infrastructure Bank Using Public-Private Partnership Model

Colorado’s Infrastructure Graded a C+ for Condition, Performance 

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet introduced a bipartisan bill with Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) aimed to help state and local officials in Colorado repair and rebuild critical infrastructure, such as roads, highways, bridges, schools, water conduits and tunnels.  The Partnership to Build America Act creates an infrastructure bank using a public-private partnership model to help finance these projects.

Representative John Delaney (D-MD) introduced a bipartisan companion in the House of Representatives which has been cosponsored by 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans.

“Our parents and grandparents helped build this country from the ground up, and in the process grew our economy into one of America’s greatest assets. Unfortunately, Washington has failed to fulfill its promise to maintain our infrastructure – from roads and bridges to our energy grid and public schools,” Bennet said. “In Colorado, we do our best with limited resources to keep things in working order and to break ground on critical new projects like the Arkansas Valley Conduit and the ongoing expansion of public transit in the Denver metro area. This bill will help us improve and expand the infrastructure we need to compete in the 21st century.”

In 2010, the most recent year for which statewide data is available, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Colorado’s infrastructure a C+ on its annual report card.  Estimates of how much investment is needed to repair and rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure reach as high as $2 trillion over the next two decades.

Without spending overstretched federal dollars, the Partnership to Build America Act will help put people back to work building projects across the country, while helping to improve U.S. competitiveness in the 21st century global economy. It establishes a $50 billion infrastructure fund that can potentially support hundreds of billions in loan guarantees and financing authority for state and local governments. The fund would finance transportation, energy, communications, water, and education infrastructure projects across the country.

The bill encourages U.S. companies to purchase these bonds by allowing them to exclude a certain portion of their overseas earnings from taxation. The amount that they are permitted to repatriate for each dollar of bond purchases will be determined by a competitive auction.

The American Infrastructure Fund created through the Partnership to Build America Act will help finance top priority infrastructure projects across the country. The fund will make guarantees or low-cost loans to state or local governments, nonprofits, private parties, and public-private partnerships to finance infrastructure projects that state and local governments prioritize.

What Colorado leaders are saying:

“Senators Bennet and Blunt have teamed up to propose a bipartisan, novel approach to the urgent task of funding our nation’s 21st infrastructure needs. In particular, I support the incentives in this bill that will help launch new public-public private partnerships, just like the partnerships that have proven so effective at renovating Denver Union Station and meeting the Denver area’s transit needs. I applaud Senator Bennet for his advocacy on this issue. A robust physical infrastructure is an important foundation for long-term economic growth, and this bill will literally pave the way for our state to more effectively compete in the global economy.”

--Tom Clark, CEO, Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation (EDC)

“This legislation allows for investments in multiple infrastructure areas. As our roads and bridges continue to age, innovative approaches like this to secure financing would be a strong tool to repair and rebuild for the future. I thank Senators Bennet and Blunt for championing such new ways forward.”

--Don Hunt, Director, Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT)

“I applaud Senators Bennet and Blunt for their leadership in introducing the Partnership to Build America Act.  Innovative financing and public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been critical tools in building out the Denver region’s transit system, enabling us to leverage private capital and make the most of our public resources. This legislation would provide long-term, low-cost financing to build major infrastructure projects faster and for less – while also promoting cost-effective PPPs like our new rail line to Denver International Airport.  It is the kind of vision and commitment to innovative solutions that we need.”

--Phil Washington, CEO and General Manager, Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD)

“Senator Bennet is introducing a bipartisan proposal that will give transportation and transit agencies across Colorado a new option to finance priority infrastructure projects.  The national infrastructure fund that the Bennet-Blunt legislation establishes is another important tool in the toolkit for local governments struggling to cover their transportation and infrastructure costs.  We applaud Michael Bennet for working across the aisle on this priority, and we urge Congress to swiftly move forward on this legislation.”

--Ann Rajewski and Elena Wilken, Co-Executive Directors, Colorado Association of Transit Agencies (CASTA)

The Senate bill is cosponsored by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Angus King (I-ME), Dan Coats (R-IN), Mark Begich (D-AK), John Hoeven (R-ND), and Mark Kirk (R-IL). This bill is supported by numerous groups, including the American Business Council, the American Planning Association, the Associated General Contractors of America, CEMEX, CH2M Hill, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, among many others.