Nebraska U.S. Senator Deb Fischer says an infrastructure bill could be one of the next major items on Congress’ to-do list.
Fischer, a Republican, calls infrastructure an investment in the future and says she’s encouraged by President Trump’s desire to address the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges.
“How do we pay for it? That’s the big question,” Fischer says. “The president’s talked about a trillion-dollar comprehensive infrastructure bill. Everybody knows that I have a strong record of making sure that we fund at an appropriate level our roads here in Nebraska. We have to make sure we can pay for it.”
As a Nebraska state senator, Fischer championed a way to increase highway spending through redirecting some of the state sales tax dollars. Now in the U.S. Senate, Fischer has introduced what she’s calling the Build USA Infrastructure Act which uses Customs fees from passengers and freight for infrastructure projects.
“It also puts into effect a program that works here in Nebraska,” Fischer says. “It’s something that I got passed in the legislature, that buy-back program for federal dollars. Here in Nebraska, cities and counties can exchange their federal money for state dollars and that moves a project faster.”
Fischer says there are a lot of options members of Congress can consider, but using what Nebraska has already done could work at the federal level. She says using bonds for transportation improvements, like some states have done, has its share of challenges.
“If you bond up front, you can do a lot of building but then you look at a state like Missouri where they spend the next ten years paying off the bonds,” Fischer says. “Your maintenance suffers and new construction suffers. Nebraska has shown we have good roads and good bridges compared to many, many states and we’re a pay-as-you-go state.”
Fischer says Congress needs to proceed carefully in how it approaches transportation funding.
By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice