Federal Lending Should Support Local Transit Funds
Citing the example of Los Angeles County increasing its sales taxes to create a fund for transportation project, authors Gloria Ohland and Denny Zane argue that the federal government should try harder to allow these sorts of innovative tax funds to secure low-income loans.
"The idea of mobilizing local voters to create local revenue streams that can be used to secure low-interest federal loans has tremendous appeal nationally as a way to finance infrastructure projects like those President Obama talked about in his State of the Union address. The goal is to accelerate the growth of jobs and the economy, significantly reduce construction costs by negotiating contracts now, and keep us competitive with China, India and other countries that are making dramatic investments in upgrading infrastructure. Happily, investments in public transportation would also accelerate environmental and cost-of-living benefits.
The key is that local voters are far more likely to pass a tax or other measures to fund infrastructure investment - as Los Angeles voters did in 2008 when they approved the Measure R by a two-thirds vote, even in the midst of a howling recession - than Congress is likely to find new revenues for infrastructure."