By Vicki Needham - 03/10/11 06:02 PM EST
There is an appetite in the Senate to finance an overhaul of the nation's infrastructure that could align with the Obama administration's $556 billion proposal, or at least provide some funding for the projects included in the fiscal year 2012 budget request.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has said he'd like to see a six-year transportation infrastructure bill ready before the August recess.
Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) have recently discussed renewing the BAB program, which expired Dec. 31, with a focus on transportation projects to attract a broader range of support.
The White House and lawmakers are uncertain how they would pay for hundreds of billions in transportation investment and several Republicans recently chided LaHood for a lack of ideas, especially as the highway trust fund's deficit mounts.
The Building American Jobs Act of 2011 includes:
• Build America Bonds — extend the program through 2012, with a 32 percent subsidy rate in 2011, and 31 percent subsidy rate in 2012.
• Recovery Zone Bonds — make an additional allocation of Recovery Zone bonds to ensure each local municipality receives a minimum allocation equal to at least its share of national unemployment in December 2009. The bill would also extend the authorization for issuing bonds through 2011.
• Water & Sewer Bonds — exclude bonds financing facilities that furnish water and sewage facilities from state volume caps. The bill would also exclude bonds financing facilities that furnish water and sewage facilities from certain limitations on tribal government issuances.
• AMT/Private Activity Bonds — extend both provisions for one year (i.e., exempt from AMT tax-exempt private activity bonds issued in 2011 and current refunding of private activity bonds issued after 2003 and refunded during 2011).
• New Markets Tax Credit — allow NMTC to be claimed against the AMT with respect to qualified investments made between March 15, 2010 and January 1, 2012.
• Federal Home Loan Bank Bond Guarantees — extends ability of FHLBs to guarantee tax-exempt bonds through 2011.
• Small Issuer Exception for Bank-Qualified Bonds — extends the ability of financial institutions to purchase tax-exempt bonds of up to $30 million per issuer (from $10 million) through 2011.
• Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Exchange Program — extends the ability of states to receive a portion of their LIHTC allocation as a direct payment through 2011.