State Infrastructure Banks:

A Mechanism to Expand Federal Transportation Financing

RCED-97-9: Published: Oct 31, 1996. Publicly Released: Oct 31, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed states' interest in establishing state infrastructure banks (SIB), focusing on the: (1) extent of states' interest in the SIB pilot program and how states might use SIB; and (2) benefits and barriers to states using SIB.

GAO found that: (1) 15 states applied for the 10 slots in the SIB pilot program; (2) these states generally have large and growing populations that need additional highway construction; (3) most of the states surveyed indicated that SIB would probably be used to help fund less than 10 percent of their state transportation projects in the next 5 years; (4) officials from 8 states believe that the most important benefit of using SIB over the next 5 years would be the expedited completion of state transportation projects; (5) 8 states believe that the absence of new federal funds to capitalize SIB diminished the likelihood that they would participate in the SIB pilot program; (6) the fiscal year 1997 Department of Transportation (DOT) appropriation provided $150 million for SIB, and how the funding is allocated could affect the number of states applying for the pilot program; (7) although a primary SIB benefit is that financing will be repaid and can be recycled to future transportation projects, some states are averse to debt financing and concerned about whether there are enough revenue-generating projects to sustain SIB; (8) some infrastructure financing experts question SIB prospects for attracting private-sector involvement; and (9) states expressed varying degrees of interest in other financing mechanisms provided for primarily in the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The 105th Congress did not take action to postpone the required date of DOT's state infrastructure bank report, and DOT provided this report to the Congress in June 1997.

    Matter: Congress may wish to consider postponing the due date for the DOT report on the financial condition of SIB in the pilot program to a date later than March 1, 1997.

 

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