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PR- 019-08
January 19, 2008


Rockefeller Foundation Commits to Funding Coalition Staffing and Resources to Make Infrastructure Funding a National Priority

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today joined with Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to announce the creation of Building America's Future, a non-partisan coalition for federal infrastructure investment. It is envisioned that the coalition will be comprised of state and local elected officials from around the nation and will become a repository of best practices on infrastructure funding issues. In the short-term, the coalition will work with the presidential candidates and the platform committees of the national political parties to ensure that the next president understands the enormity of the infrastructure crisis and is committed to increasing federal funding for infrastructure. The Rockefeller Foundation has committed to provide funding for coalition staffing and resources.

"We can all look at recent headlines about levees in New Orleans, air traffic congestion in the Northeast or the bridge collapse in Minnesota to realize that our nation's infrastructure is in need of serious attention," said Mayor Bloomberg. "But those examples only scratch the surface of the problem. The funding needs to maintain our existing infrastructure, and to improve and expand infrastructure as our nation continues to grow, just hasn't been the priority it needs to be. Today, I'm joining with Governor Rendell and Governor Schwarzenegger to create a coalition that will focus attention on our shortfalls in a non-partisan way and will work to get the Federal government to make this a top priority."

"In the past 20 years, state and local governments have been forced to pay more and more of the cost for infrastructure repairs and expansion," said Governor Rendell. "Three-quarters of our nation's infrastructure spending is by state and local governments. In the past five years Pennsylvania has increased state funding for bridge repairs by 300 percent, yet the number of structurally deficient bridges has increased. Our country can't do it without federal leadership. America's infrastructure crisis is far broader than bridges and roads. The infrastructure crisis includes the basic necessities communities and businesses need to survive: schools, waterlines, wastewater treatment systems, dams, flood mitigation, hospitals, energy, aviation, rail lines, and ports. This is an issue that crosses party lines and we need significant federal investments now to ensure the safety of our citizens and economic prosperity of our nation."

"America needs $1.6 trillion worth of infrastructure over the next five years yet federal investment has been cut in half as a percent of gross domestic product since 1987," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "This is disastrous because without adequate infrastructure to quickly and safely move goods and people our economy and our traffic will stop dead in its tracks. I could not be happier to join Governor Rendell and Mayor Bloomberg to shine an even brighter spotlight on this critical issue."

"For almost a century, the Rockefeller Foundation has supported breakthrough solutions to society's most pressing problems, and one of the most urgent challenges today is our aging and inadequate transportation infrastructure," said Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation. "This coalition represents another mile-marker on the road to policies that protect the environment, keep citizens safe, and expand access and opportunity to underserved communities. We're proud to play a role in this crucial endeavor, and we congratulate Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Rendell, and Governor Schwarzenegger for their leadership on this critical issue."

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) graded American infrastructure in 2005 and the results should be a wake-up call to decision makers in the federal government. In each category ASCE found deteriorating conditions approaching dangerous levels of disrepair, with needs outpacing allocated funds. The ASCE estimated that the infrastructure funding shortfall was in the neighborhood of $1.6 trillion over a five year period.

Building America's Future will be made up of elected officials throughout the country serving in elected executive and legislative roles at the state and local levels of government. It will also work closely with associations that represent these officials, like the National Governors Association, the US Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, and the National Association of County Officials, the National Conference of State Legislators, the Council of State Governments. In structure the Coalition will also resemble a think tank, performing analysis and offering opinions on emerging infrastructure issues, including federal, state and local legislative proposals.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, in inflation-adjusted dollar terms, annual public spending on infrastructure has risen from $105 billion in 1956 to just over $312 billion in 2004, an average of 2.3 percent per year. However, as a share of total non-defense federal expenditures, it has actually declined. Between 1956 and 1966, infrastructure spending as a share of total non-defense federal expenditures was approximately 10 percent. Since then, it has steadily declined, so that, for the last twenty years, federal spending on infrastructure has averaged 3.5 to 4 percent of total non-defense expenditures.


Stu Loeser/John Gallagher   (212) 788-2958

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