State Infrastructure Banks: A Mechanism to Expand Federal Transportation Financing
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State Infrastructure Banks: A Mechanism to Expand Federal Transportation Financing

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      State Infrastructure Banks (SIBs) are intended to complement traditional transportation grant programs and provide states with increased flexibility to offer many types of financial assistance, such as loans and subsidized interest rates, and provide bond or other debt-financing security tailored to fit a project's specific needs. The General Accounting Office (GAO) was requested to (1) identify the extent of state interest in the Department of Transportation's (DOT's) SIB Pilot Program and how states might use SIBs and (2) identify the benefits and barriers to state SIB use. GAO was also requested to summarize information on state interest in using other innovative financing mechanisms. To address these requests, GAO used a structured questionnaire to interview (1) transportation officials from 15 states that generally had expressed an interest to DOT in innovative financing--6 of which had been selected to participate in the SIB Pilot Program--and (2) various financial representatives, such as firms that rate bonds' risk and financial condition. GAO also analyzed the development of the federal SIB Pilot Program and the state applications submitted. Briefly, GAO found the following: Applications were submitted by 15 states for the 10 slots in the SIB Pilot Program. These states generally have large or growing populations that need additional highway construction. States with large land areas and comparatively small populations generally elected not to apply, as did most northeastern states. The states surveyed indicated that SIBs would probably be used to help fund less than 10% of their state transportation projects in the next 5 years.
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