Private Pension Plans:

Efforts to Encourage Infrastructure Investment

HEHS-95-173: Published: Sep 8, 1995. Publicly Released: Sep 26, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the role that pension plans play in expanding public investment in infrastructure projects.

GAO found that: (1) pension plans have not been investing in domestic public infrastructure because of the combined effects of federal law, which requires plans to seek the highest rate of return on investments and encourages growth by exempting earnings from taxation; (2) to encourage public investment in infrastructure, federal law provides a tax exemption on interest income to those who invest in municipal bonds; (3) pension plans have no incentive to invest in lower-interest municipal bonds, since plan earnings are already tax exempt; (4) although the Infrastructure Commission recommended creating two federal financing entities to attract pension plans to invest, the share of plan assets that might go to infrastructure would likely be small; and (5) the federal capitalization of state revolving funds may be an option to expand infrastructure investment without relying on pension plans.

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