Donald F. Kettl, dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, writes that financial, policy and political problems are standing in the way of much-needed improvements to America's infrastructure.
"The problem isn't just devilish. It's stuck in a devil's triangle of cross-pressures conspiring to make a solution incredibly tough. On one side of the triangle is the deep and ongoing state budget crisis. Job recovery from the Great Recession is slow, and so too is the revival in state revenues. Medicaid continues to drain state budgets, and the hemorrhage is increasing as aging baby boomers begin drifting into government-funded nursing homes. Rising public debt, especially from the feds, threatens to crowd out other spending. The Center for Best Practices at the National Governors Association pointed to the risk of a "lost decade" for state government, with an ongoing budget crunch hanging state policy. It's time, the center warned, to redesign "state government for the new normal." Will this new normal have room for infrastructure repair before more bridges crumple, roads crumble and mass transit stumbles?"