NIT League urges infrastructure funding in stimulus package
The National Industrial Transportation League is the latest group to throw its support behind an economic stimulus bill weighted toward public works projects.
The trade association, which represents companies involved in domestic and international freight transport, said it asked members of Congress to fund infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, waterways, railways and airports to help create jobs and restore neglected transport networks.
“We have fallen far behind in providing the means to move goods efficiently, and it is costing our country billions of dollars in lost productivity. Our transportation networks are vital to the country's economic wellbeing but they have been historically underfunded. We now have an opportunity to make a significant down payment on the essential job of rebuilding our transportation system that is crucial to the growth and prosperity of the nation over the years ahead,” NIT League President Bruce Carlton wrote.
A wide cross-section of interests favors an immediate injection of infrastructure spending, including the National Association of Manufacturers, labor unions, and Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
Congress is expected to return to Washington after the Nov. 4 election to work on a package that may include tax cuts, extended unemployment benefits, larger food stamp allotments, Medicaid relief for states and spending on infrastructure projects. President Bush has threatened to veto a $61 billion stimulus bill passed earlier by the House because infrastructure projects would take to long to develop to immediately create an economic injection of relief.
Hill and state supporters say there is a huge backlog of projects that are ready to go if money is made available. A survey conducted by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has identified 3,071 highway and bridge projects totaling $18 billion that can be put out to bid within 90 days.
House leaders have said that any bill is likely to be worth less than $100 billion in order to maintain fiscal discipline. Economists roughly estimate that about 35,000 jobs are created for every $1 billion in infrastructure spending. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., last week said Congress would not load down the bill with pork barrel projects. ' Eric Kulisch