Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown
Testimony on Maryland Transportation and Infrastructure Needs
House Ways and Means, Economic Matters and Appropriations & select members of the Senate
As Prepared for Delivery
October 18, 2011
Governor O’Malley and I are committed to creating new jobs in Maryland. Working with you, we are committed to creating an atmosphere in Maryland where business can thrive and grow and the private sector can create jobs.
That’s why we’ve been working creatively to strengthen our economy and put Marylanders back to work. In partnership with the General Assembly, we have established InvestMaryland; passed the job creation and recovery tax credit; made record investments in our public school construction program; and protected unemployment benefits. We have been leaders in the investment of Recovery Act funds. We created Skills2Compete to help workers obtain the training needed to meet the demands of businesses; prepared for and implemented BRAC to support the 20,000 direct jobs and up to 60,000 total in the coming years; and passed tax credits to help expand critical industries such as biotech and cybersecurity. We have retained our AAA bond rating, the gold standard for fiscal responsibility in government.
And yesterday, the Governor announced an Executive Order requiring every agency to review its regulations with an eye towards job creation and fostering the growth of small businesses and new industries. Because of these efforts unemployment in Maryland is nearly 2% points below the national average.
While we have achieved some successes, too many Marylanders are still struggling to find work or struggling to keep their business afloat. That’s why we need to expand our investment in Maryland’s aging and over-burdened infrastructure.
Investing in infrastructure has several undeniable benefits: It creates private jobs. It injects dollars into our economy. And it establishes the groundwork for long-term recovery and growth.
Job creation is our most pressing need and infrastructure investments create jobs. Studies show that a $1 billion investment in infrastructure can create anywhere from 18 to 30,000 jobs. Supporting our struggling construction industry, a key economic sector, will advance our economic recovery.
And infrastructure spending is more effective in creating jobs than other government actions. While targeted tax credits may spur certain economic growth by sector, fiscal analyses show that, as a general matter, tax cuts don’t put as much money back into the economy as spending on infrastructure.
New jobs create spending that will give a shot in the arm to our economic recovery. People who are working spend money at local retail establishments and take on home improvement projects. Working people also spend on discretionary goods. This spending puts more money into circulation, stimulates growth and creates new jobs. Maryland’s economy needs every one of these dollars and jobs.
Lastly, infrastructure spending builds the structures we need for long-term recovery and growth. Having a strong infrastructure is a prerequisite for sustainable growth and efficient transportation is critical to a high quality of life. It improves access to markets and services, and reduces the impact on our environment.
Our nation has been neglecting our infrastructure for too long. It needs our attention now. American infrastructure spending is at the same level now as it was in 1968—in real dollars. And a bi-partisan report, Building America’s Future, co-chaired by Mayor Bloomberg and Governors Rendell and Schwarzenegger found that America is investing less than 2% of its GDP in infrastructure, while China is investing 9% India 5%, Canada 4% respectively.
With the American Jobs Act, the President has put forward a plan that would help address these issues and create thousands of jobs, but we cannot wait for Congress to act.
Marylanders need us to act now. Modernizing our state’s infrastructure is critical. Maryland got a C- from the American Society of Civil Engineers 2011 Report Card - we were just slightly above the national average of D. A new report from the Texas Transportation Institute ranks the Washington, D.C. region, including Maryland suburbs, as the nation’s most congested region for auto commuters. And among areas between 1 and 3 million people Baltimore ranks first in annual hours wasted per auto commuter.
According to the Blue Ribbon Commission on transportation funding, our State’s annual transportation infrastructure deficit is about $800 M. To put things in perspective, if we were to build just the first project listed in every county priority letter to Secretary Swaim-Staley it would cost us $12 billion.
Maryland’s infrastructure needs are critical. Our jobs needs are critical. Today, Secretary Swaim-Staley will provide you with a detailed overview of our progress and investments, as well as the challenges and opportunities of our transportation infrastructure. You will hear from our County Executives who are dealing with these issues at the local level. And finally, from our business community who is committed to working with us to identify solutions that can jumpstart Maryland’s economy.
The Governor and I look forward to working with you on solutions to these important issues in the coming months.