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Congress considers COVID recovery bond program

July 22, 2020 / MARY SCOTT NABERS

While congressional leaders work diligently to develop the next COVID recovery bill, other interesting legislation also is being discussed.


Many of the conversations focus on public funding options after COVID-19. There are no disagreements when it comes understanding the critical funding needs that will be front and center for cities, counties, states, schools, and hospitals as the country begins to emerge from a total focus on the coronavirus.


Many public projects and initiatives will have to be addressed. First of all, crumbling, inefficient and unsafe infrastructure, of all types, must be a priority. Secondly, jobs will be a critical component of the successful re-establishment of economic stability.


It is already apparent that a great deal of new funding will flow to long-standing federal programs. That’s a good thing because public officials already are aware of how those programs function. However, a number of new bills under discussion relate to the provision of additional and innovative ways for governmental entities to secure funding for projects that would stimulate the economy, create jobs, and address aging infrastructure. One particularly interesting new concept being evaluated is tax-exempt COVID recovery bonds.


The current discussions focus on a federal COVID recovery bonding program that would be launched with approximately $25 billion. A small number of states have already initiated programs such as this on a smaller scale.


The funding would be allocated to states based on population. From the governor’s office in each state, funding could be disbursed for projects of specific types.


If COVID recovery bonds become a reality, the program would provide another way for public entities to secure funding that does not come solely from public coffers. Individual private sector contractors, investors, and organizations would provide the funding and work collaboratively with public officials.


This program would be somewhat similar to private activity bonds which provide alternative funding for public initiatives. The new COVID recovery bonds would be tax exempt when used for permitted purposes such as financing airport, port, transportation, sewage, water, solid waste disposal, certain facilities, and other projects.


In the following weeks and months, taxpayers and citizens should watch with eager anticipation. Congressional actions will boost America’s economic recovery and stabilize governmental organizations throughout the country. Inaction is a possibility, too, but that would risk missing out on recovery opportunities.


Congressional representatives base their actions and their votes on input from constituents they represent. There are times when citizens, whatever their opinions, should provide input to elected representatives. This is one of those times.


Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., a business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the U.S. Her recently released book, Inside the Infrastructure Revolution: A Roadmap for Building America, is a handbook for contractors, investors and the public at large seeking to explore how public-private partnerships or joint ventures can help finance their infrastructure projects.

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