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Horowitz: It’sTime to Get Serious about Fixing our Infrastructure

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


In case you weren’t aware, this week is Infrastructure Week.  More than 80 organizations including the Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO are descending upon Washingtonfor the third year in a row to highlight the critical importance of investingin and modernizing America’sinfrastructure systems, and the essential role infrastructure plays inour economy.”

The essential, but neglected task, of maintaining and upgrading our roads, bridges, airports electrical grid, sewer systems, and public transit, is a rareissue that unites business and labor. Both support substantially increasedfunding across the board with the most immediate priority of replenishing the Highway Trust Fund, either by boosting the 18.4 cents a gallon gas tax that is now insufficient even to fund road repairs or finding an alternative permanentsupplementary funding source. Right now, the Congressional Budget Officeprojects a $170 billion shortfall over the next 10 years for the Highway Trust Fund, according to The Hill.  And without Congressional action, the fund runs out of money this year at the end of this month.

The American Society of Civil Engineers(ASCE) estimates that $3.6 trillionof investment across the board is needed by 2020 to make USinfrastructure safe and dependable. In their most recent report card, they giveUS infrastructureas a whole a nearly a nearly failing “D+” grade. 

As anyone who travels on our roads or flies knows, to remain competitiveeconomically we must make dramatic improvements. In a global economy, where therapid movement of people and goods is essential to economic success we continueto fall behind.

Further, investingin infrastructure creates good paying jobs. As Joseph Kane and Robert Puentespoint out in a recent analysis done for the Brookings Institution,“infrastructure jobs usually represent long-term, well-paid opportunities forthe two-thirds of U.S.workers who lack four-year college degrees.” The authors assert that these jobs pay up to30% more than other jobsavailable to low income workers.

Given the pressing need and the strong support of key interest groups onewould think that it would be a ‘no-brainer’ for Congress to boostinfrastructure funding. Yet, because new revenue is needed, every year,including this one, it is an adventure just to plug the holes in The HighwayFund.   There is some hope, however, forbreaking the log jam. Bi-partisan support for new sources of revenue, such asthe ‘Repatriation Tax’ proposed by Senators Rand Paul(R-KY0 and Barbara Boxer(D-CA) and backed by President Obama , isincreasing. The Repatriation Tax would be a tax on overseas profits broughtback into the country.

Another idea whose time may be coming is forming a National InfrastructureBank, using initial public seed monies to leverage private investment.  This is an Obama Administration proposal,which has attracted some Republican support.

The time is now to stop talking about the need to repair our aging infrastructure and tomake the smart investments so long overdue. Here’s to hoping that some time inthe near future we won’t need Infrastructure Week to get Congress to performthis most basic and essential of tasks.  

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at University of Rhode Island.  


Related Slideshow: The Ten Most Politically Powerful in Central MA

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Senator Michael Moore

Senator Moore, D-Millbury, serves as the Massachusetts Senate Vice-Chair on the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.

In November, Moore was named the Vice-Chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Public Safety. 

“I am honored to be appointed the Vice-Chair of the NCSL’s Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Public Safety,” said Moore “This appointment will provide me the opportunity to continue to advocate and promote important public safety issues to ensure the safety of residents in the Commonwealth.”

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Matt Beaton- Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs

Like Polito, Beaton is from Shrewsbury and served as State Rep. for Worcester’s 11th District before being named Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs by Governor Baker.

Baker said that Beaton had the right experience to carry out green energy initiatives and that his leadership will be an important asset to accomplish goals throughout the Commonwealth.

Beaton has experience serving on the Ways and Means, and the Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture committees. Beaton will take charge of the administration's task of creating energy efficiency, conservation and improved outdoor recreation.

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Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus

City Manager Augustus has solid relationships at the top of both political parties in the state. He is an avid supporter of Congressman Jim McGovern and he has recently celebrated that Karyn Polito, from Shrewsbury, will be the Lt. Governor.

"Central Massachusetts is proud to once again have one of our own in the Lieutenant Governor’s office. I look forward to working with the new administration to continue the work of bringing economic development to the Heart of the Commonwealth, improving the standard of living, and ensuring government works for all residents, regardless of class or status," said Augustus.

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Sheriff Lew Evangelidis

Following eight years as State Legislature, in 2010 Lew Evangelidis was elected as Worcester County Sheriff.

With his political background, Evangelidis has gained both visibility and a reputation for getting things done in Worcester County. On Friday night, Evangelidis gave a speech at the Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito's Inauguration Celebraton.

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Mike O'Brien

O'Brien spent nine years as Worcester's City Manager before stepping down in late 2013. 

"Mike is certainly a valuable asset to any Governor. His public service is his great strength," said Connie Lukes, former Mayor of Worcester and current Worcester City Councilor. "Central Mass. is going to have a voice in the Governor's office, and is really becoming a political machine."

O'Brien serves as Baker's Co-Chair of the State of the State Committee and was a central figure during the Baker and Lt. Governor Polito's Central Mass Inauguration Celebration last Friday.

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Senator Ryan Fattman

In November, State Representative Ryan Fattman of Webster defeated incumbent Richard Moore (D) for the South Central Massachusetts Senate Seat. The victory was a huge upset for Fattman who continues to make a remarkable climb up the Massachusetts political ladder.

By winning the State Senate election, Fattman has established a Republican foundation in Central Massachusetts and has helped the Republican party gain control of the State House.

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Tim Murray

"Tim Murray, Gov. Baker, and Karen Polito share many concerns and ideas about the importance of economic development and job opportunities; sound budgets and sensible policies can create a certain momentum and confidence in investors and business leaders that Massachusetts is in capable hands; Tim Murray's current constituencies are the Central Mass. Chambers of Commerce. Those constituencies were and are for the most part eager Baker/Polito supporters. I anticipate that they'll make some beautiful music together, as they share the same economic development/ jobs hymnal. Call Baker a 'Murray Republican' or call Murray a 'Baker Democrat'," said Tom Finneran, former Speaker of the House and GoLocal MINDSETTER™.

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Senator Harriet Chandler

Beginning her eigth term, Senator Harriet Chandler is likely to play important Committee and caucus roles under the new Senate President.

She also serves as the Co-Chair of the Prevention for Health Caucus, Co-Chair of the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) Legislative Caucus, Co-Chair of the Central Massachusetts Caucus, and Co-Chair of the Oral Health Caucus.

"Through hard work and persistence, she has become a leader who ensures that the concerns of Central Massachusetts communities are heard at the State House, " said State Rep. Jim O'Day.

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Lt. Governor Karyn Polito

As reported by GoLocal last week, former Speaker of the House Tom Finneran said this about Polito: "Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito have strong histories with the Legislature; watch for Central Mass. legislators, Democrats and Republicans, to work closely with the Administration...Lt. Governor Polito's first-hand knowledge and experience regarding transportation needs in Central Mass. mirrors Tim Murray's; look for the two of them working together in perfect harmony; Governor Baker will pay close attention and Central Mass. will be the beneficiary. There's no political ego here---just a determination to make Massachusetts as great a state as it can be."

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Congressman Jim McGovern

Following his successful, but long-time bid to initiate relations with Cuba once again, Congressman McGovern proved he has weight to pull both locally and nationally. 

In an interview with GoLocal Worcester regarding McGovern, MINDSETTER™ Paul Giorgio said "If you want to get things done, you need a partner in Washington. You can’t get things done solely on the backs of Worcester tax payers. You need federal dollars. You need state dollars. $10 million to renovate City Square, most of that money isn’t coming from Worcester. It’s state money. Funding for JetBlue, that’s federal money, that’s FAA money."


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