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tv   U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hosts Infrastructure Investment Discussion Part 2  CSPAN  March 5, 2019 8:10am-9:29am EST

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captioning performed by vitac >> the city of detroit is also making similar improvements on the other side on their on side and we've just finished up a major street project that included federal grant money in order to help redo the street, but what we're really focusing on now is launching the first regional bike share initiative in the united states through mogo detroit, downtown detroit launched bike share, i believe, two years ago and when it launched there was a few other council folks in cities north of me who said we would really love
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regional bike share in our communities and i'm like, well, let's let detroit launch and get a year under their belt before we bring them here, but we started having conversations between city officials and our city planners and there was a desi desire. we have six cities, the city of detroit, including ferndale, and four other entering suburbs and we are going to be launching regional bike share. we just signed the interlocal agreements, cities are paying $30,000 to $40,000 depending on how many stations we're going to have. mogo itself is a nonprofit and they work through raising the corporate philanthropic funds to help sponsor the stations. so we are working together to make sure that we're connecting our region through different types of transportation, through biking. so that is another major focus, but we're really doing it on our
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own and so it would really be great if we had a stronger partner at the higher level in order to say how can we do this on a broader level? but we're starting something and we're really excited and hopefully it will be successful just as it was in downtown detroit. >> well, great. make sure you talk to your members of congress, tell them that story and let them know how they need to be a part. because that's one of our frustrations, i feel like the federal government hasn't been doing a lot in this area for the last several years, state and local governments have been filling the void, but we need a federal partner. there's some of these projects we need that federal partner. we now think we have a window of opportunity to get something through congress, this is why we have to let our voice be heard, tell your story, make sure you tell it again because they can never hear it enough and let's hope we can get it done this year. al, let me go to you. what do you see the outlook for the bond industry going into 2019? interest there sectors that
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bonds make more sense for than other sectors? are there areas where you see bonds play a bigger role than other sectors? i'm just trying to figure out where can they be best utilized to fill some of these infrastructure deficits? >> i'm going to pause for one second. i think what you touch on with respect to this regionalism and this idea where, you know, local communities with the feds help need to really band together to look at transportation and housing and things like that across borders so that not everybody is in siloed like that is really the direction we have to go ultimately. >> right. we're actually doing it, you know prorks jekt ject by projec on a strategic level where can we be making these investments and where is the federal part accelerate that investment. that's what we're looking for now is how do we accelerate because everybody feels a little stalled.
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>> but i'm not dodging your question. >> that's okay. we're having a conversation. go ahead. >> so we still benefit from historically low interest rates and so i think that capital formation in the municipal market remains strong. i think that -- i think -- i mean, i think infrastructure will remain strong. again, for me that means things like roads, water and sewer, things like that that need rebuilding in small and medium size communities. i think we're seeing communities really trying to do more in the affordable housing. we do quite a bit in my practice with affordable housing and that's either done through 501(c)(3) financing or tax credit financing, tax increment financing can be an important part of that, which i think communities -- i know melanie and i talked a little bit about that before the panel. those are the kind of things
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that i think are really critical for this group and for my market or our market going forward because i really think that those are the areas where municipalities are not serving their residents, you know, we have a crying need -- i'm sure ferndale is saying 15 or 20 is nowhere near enough affordable units to expand. >> right. >> in minneapolis, you know, we don't have enough places, and in places like, you know, california where the cost of living are so high, we really have to look at innovative ways to develop true affordable housing to individuals in the community. >> great. that's really good. because, you know, inn the opportunities are there, we've just got to match up those opportunities with the projects. >> right. >> i think facilitating that private investment i think more and more elected officials understand it's a tool in the tool kit. >> and really for me what that means is protecting the financing vehicles that are in
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place like tax increment financing, private activity bonds through tax credit financing, 4% and 9% transactions and looking at other ways to develop the subsidy or financing options to communities so that they can build those kind of facilities. >> great. all right. well, we're almost wrapping and out of time, but i have one more question. what is the one thing the federal government can do to make your life easier when it comes to federal infrastructure? and then do you think we're going to get it done this year? i know. i want to hear positive, please. jen, start us off. >> i'm going to have a different answer than i typically would, actually, because i'm going to go to environmental and third-party approvals. that's my go-to for that. one of the things we're seeing with large p-3 projects in the country that have had challenges is that the challenges have been rooted in the delays that have occurred during the environmental process, including
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conflicts associated with third-party approvals. when you do a major transportation project, as you know well and many in the room know, it requires the coordination and approval and consent from a large number of third parties. so the federal government -- the current administration is looking at how do we streamline this process so we can move projects forward. it's not just important for p-3s but it is something i'm concerned about as we want to continue to deliver proof points of how this model works so that it can continue to play an active role. these kinds of challenges and that stage are creating issues for these major projects. i think that's something that we need to continue to see some momentum on. they're not going to do it this year. i wouldn't even venture to guess on that. >> i will let you off the hook on that. melanie? >> i'm stataking my statewide h for the michigan municipal league, but all cities are
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looking to the federal government to be a stronger partner and that, you know, a disinvestment which feels like a disinvestment in our infrastructure is that we've really had enough. we have roads, bridges, water infrastructure in the state of michigan that is in need of critical repair and we're not that different from other cities and other states across the nation. so for me it's like let's get this done. our cities are ready to move forward and we just need a partner to help accelerate. >> great. thank you. alan? >> i would agree. i think if i could ask for one thing it would be to, you know, let state and local governments flourish. it really is a partnership that should be fostered. we should look at more innovative ways to get things done. i am hopeful that in the current session that we can see things like, you know, the bank qualified status, which has been
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10 million for essentially a generation, advanced refundings which in my opinion were mistakenly prohibited in the bill last year, you know, that kind of stuff, even just small steps like that would be a great step forward for the marketplace and i'm hopeful we can get that done. >> awesome. sounds good. a lot of optimism. i like it. thank you all very much. i appreciate this panel. thank you all. >> thank you. >> please welcome karen freeman-wilson, mayor of gary, indiana, and president of national league of cities. ron nirenberg, mayor of san antonio, texas, and clarence anthony, ceo and executive director, national league of cities. >> good morning, everybody. good morning. you guys are having an amazing day and you are lucky that you're going to hear from two amazing leaders from throughout
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america. the first thing i will tell you is at my office i'm used to walk-on music, maybe from "hamilton" or something that pumps the crowd up, but i don't have that, so i've got two great mayors who is going to do that. first we have mayor karen freeman-wilson, who is mayor of gary, indiana. about 45 minutes outside of chicago. leading an amazing city. and then right next to me we have mayor nirenberg from san antonio. 1.5 million folks and one of the fastest growing cities in america. so it's going to be great to hear from both of our leaders here and share with you how they are leading during this time and wanting a partnership from the federal level. so today is about a
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conversation. today is about getting more commitment from -- and partnership with the business community as well as the elected officials throughout america. so, mayor freeman-wilson, you are president of national league of cities. thank you for that. but can you tell us what your city is facing when it comes to infrastructure and how would a stronger partnership with the federal government help your city? >> well, this is, first and foremost, i want to thank the u.s. chamber of commerce for this opportunity to join what is a crucial conversation. when you talk about what's happening in gary around infrastructure, it's an important time for us. we have just completed a 15 -- actually, 1,900 foot extension of our runway at our airport and so now we have 8,900 feet,
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making it really prime for cargo, even though it's a smaller airport. but in addition to that, we are on the verge of developing an inland port that would be a complement to that airport, but would also play on the fact that we have three class one railways that move through an area called buffington harbor, that we have four interstate highways that are right near there and we have barge traffic that is active because of the presence of u.s. steel. so there's a real opportunity in gary to grow our infrastructure both through the inland port and through the airport, and the thing about our airport is that we've done a public/private partnership there. so we understand the importance of partnering with local business and as well as with a national entity that does
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airports. we are also seen investment from both the federal and state government and we think that there is an opportunity to do the same thing with the inland port. >> thank you. mayor nirenberg, you know, again, i introduced you by saying it's one of the fastest growing -- >> it's the fastest growing. >> okay. the fastest growing. >> statistically. >> city in america. you know, with that you have to keep up with all the infrastructure needs of your community. how have you done that and what obstacles have you had in terms of achieving those priorities in transportation and other infrastructure? >> thank you, clarence, and thank you also to the u.s. chamber for being great partners for cities throughout the united states. san antonio is a 300-year-old city which for texas standards is pretty old. we are also a sprawling city, 500 square miles. in addition to that, we are the fastest growing city in the
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country, i think about 150 people per day in our msa are moving or are born in our community. so we have major infrastructure challenges and they go across the spectrum. water infrastructure, roadway infrastructure, air infrastructure, you name it, we are working on it. what we've done over the past is san antonio has had an extraordinary track record of proactive investment. every five years we put a bond package in front of voters, not requiring a tax increase, but getting an approval of a list of projects roughly in about 850 million was the bond program that was passed by voters in 2017. in addition to that we have relied on very good financial management, gold standard financial management and bond ratings to help us keep up with the capital infrastructure program annually. over, you know, $1.5 billion this year. so we've been doing our work
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proactively throughout our community over the last, you know, 20 years to keep up with the kind of growth that we're experiencing, but we know it's not enough. we require partnership at the state level and at the federal level, particularly as it relates to roadway and highway infrastructure. one of the things that we're focusing on right now is the fact that san antonio as is typical for a large texas city, is behind the curve in terms of multi-modal transportation. so one of the things i campaigned on was instituting modern transportation reform for the city of san antonio. we still have gotten by with mainly single occupancy vehicle as the only transportation game in town, but those days are quickly ending as the community densifies, the business community is great, people are moving into san antonio, we need options to keep people moving if we're going to keep our economy moving. >> one of the things that's obvious probably to this audience is, yes, we need a
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federal partner and we need the administration as well as congress to step up, but it seems like you guys are doing it. what can federal leaders learn from local leaders, both of you? what can they learn from city leaders? >> i think that you're right, if you think about mayors, we see folks every day, we're in the grocery stores, we're in the mosques and synagogues and churches. we see our folks and they don't want to hear, well, i can't get the council to do this or i can't get someone else to do that. so we have to get it done. so as we think about how to get it done, it's always about partnerships, whether it is a partnership at the local level, with county government or a partnership at the state level with the federal government or with private partners. so i think that's the message
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that we can take and that we bring to washington, the ability, the imperative, quite frankly, of getting it done and the fact that there's not just one way to accomplish something. there are multiple ways to get things done and i think that to the extent that there are over 19,000 cities that we represent at the national league of cities, you will find 19,000 ways to accomplish something, but the bottom line is that it must be accomplished. >> and i think that sums it up perfectly. you know, local communities, city governments, county governments, get the job done because we have to. we don't have the luxury of partisan gridlock at the local level because constituents depend on the road getting paved, depend on police getting their paychecks and hitting the beat, they fend on fire service and library services staying
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open. we don't have the luxury of not delivering for our local communities. so we use every tool at our disposal to take care of infrastructure, to maintain infrastructure, to build infrastructure when it's necessary. >> so speaking of a federal partnership, what does that look like? i mean, you guys have talked about some tools you're using, bond issues, p 3s. what are some of the things that you think the federal government can help you lead and other mayors from cities, towns and villages all over america? what do you think they can do? >> well, certainly there are some federal programs that have been extremely helpful. the build program and its predecessor have been helpful, especially when you're looking at mass transit, when you're looking at larger infrastructure projects. we've actually used that in our commuter rail between chicago and northwest indiana, but in
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addition to that, the opportunity zones present a real opportunity for us to see local investment, but there also has to be a framework as you look at workforce investment and workforce development, as you look at the disaster recovery. i think those are areas where the federal government is distinctly poised to lead in and allow us to tailor the programs to the needs of our cities and our citizens. >> and i would agree with everything that karen just said. in addition to that, though, what we've seen -- the greatest help, beyond all the federal programs that are available, is the cost of capital. like it or not, the cities and
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urban areas in the united states are growing to quickly that we need financing to be able to finance projects of that magnitude we need the cost of capital to be as low as possible. so programs like worda, like the fast act that provide low cost financing for major infrastructure projects are critically important. then of course flexible -- flexibility in terms of the federal grants that are available. one of the big programs that has been helpful to us over the last decade is cdbg, community development block grants, choice and hope, these programs that are helping us cope with the pending housing crisis that's happening all across our cities. >> so all of us yousaw the supe bowl sunday night. this is not a planned question, guys. you know, the patriots won again, right, and everybody is saying it's the right time and
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it's great for brady and all of that. this is a stretch, but i'm going to wind this into this question. why is it the right time for an infrastructure bill? did y'all get that? i knew it was a stretch. i have to keep you guys into this. why is it the right time for it? i mean, we've been talking about it two, three years now. what makes this the right time to make this happen? >> clarence, i think precisely what you said. we've been talking about it. you know, that was the platform, the presidential platform or one of the hallmarks of the presidential platform. we are talking about it at the state level. indiana just saw an unprecedented investment in road infrastructure two years ago. we are talking about it at the local level, whether you are talking about airport development, whether you are talking about water infrastructure, which is so
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important to legacy cities like mine, as we look at lead contamination and issues like that. so our message is simply it's time to stop talking about it and it's time to start doing something about it. to the extent that we're all aligned at every level of government, but also in the private sector with the need to invest in infrastructure so that we can get people to work, so that we can make our cities prosper, then i think this is prime for us all to come together on. >> infrastructure creates jobs, infrastructure is nonpartisan, infrastructure keeps america competitive. all the things that we've been talking about, the polarization of our political environment can be addressed by just getting to work and america gets to work when it invests in its infrastructure. >> absolutely.
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>> i agree with you. and i want to get the audience ready. we're going to take two questions out of the audience because i do think it's important as we have this conversation to recognize that real success is going to happen when the chamber, the business community, and local government leaders, whether it is in san antonio or gary, insist. so i want to see what questions that you may have for this audience. both of you talked about jobs and what does -- what does the infrastructure bill do for jobs in your local community or nationally? how do you see this bill playing a role in workforce? >> well, to the extent that there is an opportunity to enhance workforce development investment, particularly when you look at the involvement in
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local unions, operating enginee engineers, heavy equipment operators, when you look at training of young people who may not have necessarily graduated from high school and or gone to college, the opportunity for technical college or career and technical training is huge as a result of this bill, and to get that in cities with high unemployment, like ours, or even cities with low unemployment, what we're beginning to recognize now as a country is that college is not affordable or even desirable for everyone. you know, we used to say, you graduate, you go to college. that's not the message that we have to give our kids now, but we need to give them a viable opportunity not just to make a living, but to create a life in their communities and our communities. >> as it relates to transportation, we have a saying
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in san antonio that you can't build your way out of it, but the truth of the matter is we can't build the same things we've been building before. >> precisely. >> we also have another saying that every job with a stem job, science, technology, engineering and matt. that's the future to remain competitive in the world. we do well when we innovate so the invasion also needs to happen within the infrastructure space. so when we invest we create jobs that we're trying to bring to the united states, we're trying to have our young people go to school and build a smarter environment. so i think that, you know, the direction that we're moving in as communities just to be able to cope with the challenges of growth and infrastructure decay are leading in the direction of workforce development. >> so tonight there's this major speech called the state of the union and what are you looking to hear from the president as it relates to hess message in
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infrastructure? >> i'm certainly looking to hear a clear commitment to present congress with a comprehensive infrastructure package, to say that we are 100% behind it, to talk about the opportunities for the federal agencies to even invest early on without necessarily passing legislation because there's certainly an opportunity to see that and to collaborate together and with cities and towns and villages all over this country. so that's what i'm looking for. >> i'll be in -- we will leave this conversation at this point and go live now to capitol hill. the senate armed services committee is meeting today to hear from the commanders of the u.s. european command and the u.s. transportation command on their operations. senate armed services committee
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chair james inhofe says the hearing will review the defense authorization request for 2020, the european command commander may be asked about the u.s. joint exercise with israel which deployed for the most time its most advanced missile defense system in israel. live coverage here on c-span 3.
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