Stauber and Finkenauer Introduce Bill to Help Rural Communities Finance Infrastructure Projects
WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, Congressman Pete Stauber (MN-08) and Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) introduced the Helping Communities Invest in Infrastructure Act, legislation that will help rural communities access infrastructure financing.
Currently, many smaller cities and rural communities have difficulty applying for financing for infrastructure projects through the National Surface Transportation and Innovative Finance Bureau, better known as the Build America Bureau. In fact, very few rural communities have successfully applied for funding.
“Our nation’s infrastructure is crumbling and in desperate need of improvement,” said Congressman Stauber. “While the federal government offers financial assistance to help improve transportation corridors, unfortunately, smaller towns are often the last to know about these opportunities or face challenges successfully applying for these opportunities due to high costs and excessive government red-tape. Rural America matters and I am proud to work with Congresswoman Finkenauer to ensure a level playing field for smaller communities in desperate need of infrastructure funding.”
“One of the issues that I’ve been focused on is making sure that we’re working closely with our local governments across Northeast Iowa to understand their needs,” said Congresswoman Finkenauer. “I’ve heard time and again from our local officials that the resources might be out there to help them invest in infrastructure but that they’re not finding out about those opportunities and that—even when they are aware of them—there is a lot red tape to cut through and high costs to even apply. It’s important that Congress hears these stories and makes the federal government work for Iowa communities, rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach. I’m proud to introduce this common-sense, bipartisan bill to ensure that Iowa towns and cities have the resources they need to invest in infrastructure projects that will make a big difference in our communities.”
Specifically, this bill increases funding for the Rural Project Initiative to provide loans well below market interest rate and waive funding application fees for local governments, which can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The bill also increases outreach to rural communities to share information about funding opportunities and inform them of best practices for applying for funding. It also increases accountability within the Build America Bureau to ensure that taxpayer dollars are actually translating to a positive impact in communities.
The bill has been endorsed by the National Association of Counties and the National League of Cities.
“Counties own the largest share of the nation’s roads, four out of every 10 bridges, nearly 80 percent of public transportation systems and a third of all public airports. We work with our federal, state and private sector partners to maintain and build America’s transportation network,” said National Association of Counties Executive Director Matthew Chase. “Especially in rural areas, financing tools like TIFIA help us maintain transportation infrastructure that keeps our residents connected and enhances our global economic competitiveness. We applaud Representative Finkenauer’s and Representative Stauber’s efforts to strengthen the TIFIA program and provide rural communities with greater access to this important financing tool.”
“The National League of Cities is pleased to support the Helping Communities Invest in Infrastructure Act, which would expand available transportation financing options for cities, towns and villages of all sizes,” said National League of Cities President Karen Freeman-Wilson, mayor of Gary, Indiana. “We applaud Rep. Finkenauer and Rep. Stauber for working to provide all of our nation’s communities with the tools they need to rebuild and finance essential infrastructure projects that will benefit their citizens every day.”