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How to Reverse the Nation’s Declining Infrastructure Crisis

New NLC Report Highlights How Local Infrastructure Should Be Paid for in a New Era of Federalism

May 16, 2016
The National League of Cities (NLC) announced on May 16 the release of a new report on the ability of cities to address the nation’s growing infrastructure challenges.
Paying for Local Infrastructure in a New Era of Federalism presents a state-by-state analysis and comparison of the local tools to fund infrastructure, including local taxes and fees as well as emerging mechanisms such as state infrastructure banks and public-private partnerships. This report, the second annual collaborative project with the state municipal leagues, is based on federal, state and local government data as well as a survey and interviews with state municipal leagues.
“A new federalism — one in which cities lead on the nation’s most critical challenges — is emerging,” said NLC’s CEO and Executive Director Clarence E. Anthony. “Despite increased responsibilities for our nation’s infrastructure, the authority of cities to raise revenues and meet the needs of their communities remains limited by the states.”
The report’s findings include:
  • 29 states authorize local option sales taxes
  • 16 states authorize local option fuel taxes
  • 26 states authorize local option motor vehicle registration fees
  • 32 states authorize public private partnerships
  • 27 states have state infrastructure banks 
“The infrastructure funding relationship that cities have with their states is complex,” said NLC’s research director and report co-author Christiana K. McFarland. “Our new research establishes a foundation of understanding about this relationship across the states, reveals the unequal access that cities have to critical funding tools, and underscores the need for greater local control.”
The report shows that cities need a more deliberate approach that recognizes the central role of infrastructure in the success of our nation’s economic engines. To achieve this, cities need strategic and predictable investment from federal and state governments; better communication between cities and states on funding priorities; and greater local authority to raise revenue and implement creative solutions with multi-sector partners.
For more information about this report, please contact Tom Martin, National League of Cities at (202) 626-3186.

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