The need to repair and upgrade America’s roads and rails is widely accepted, but the best way to fund these projects is a matter of debate. In a briefing paper, Street Smart: Reforming the Transportation Budget Process, EPI policy analyst Ethan Pollack looks at the benefits and drawbacks of two options for reforming how transportation dollars are allocated to projects: capital budgeting and an infrastructure bank.
Capital budgeting is an accounting concept that spreads the cost of assets over their useful lives, rather than at the moment of outlay. A national infrastructure bank would be a federal financial entity designed to promote a more efficient level and mix of infrastructure investments by operating outside of the normal budgeting process.
“Overall, it is likely that the infrastructure bank would provide investments for much-needed areas of the transportation system, areas that also provide higher investment returns,” concludes Pollack.