On January 15, 2015, the White House announced a new proposal aimed at increasing investment in national infrastructure projects covering surface transportation, water, and broadband. A key component of the program is the Qualified Public Infrastructure Bond program. The program would augment private activity bonds, expanding their scope to include financing for airports, ports, mass transit, solid waste disposal, sewer, and water, as well as for more surface transportation projects. As proposed, QPIBs would also have no expiration date or issuance caps and the interested on the bonds would not be subject to the alternative minimum tax.
In the area of water infrastructure, the White House plans to launch a new interagency center at the Environmental Protection Agency. The Water Center will function as a clearinghouse for state and local governments interested in connecting with water system construction and management tool kits, case studies, technical assistance, investors, and project sponsors of public-private partnerships. The proposal also includes the Rural Opportunity Investment Initiative, which seeks to facilitate investments in rural water, energy, and broadband infrastructure through partnerships with private financing entities.
To spur greater coordination on the early phases of infrastructure planning and design, the president also signed a memorandum last week to align federal funding for planning and predevelopment at the Departments of Commerce, Transportation, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, and Agriculture.
With the exception of the presidential memorandum, these proposals, which require congressional approval to begin, will be the centerpiece of the White House’s negotiations with Congress on tax reform and the reauthorization of a multi-year surface transportation package. The White House’s press release, which contains additional details about each of these initiatives, is available here.