Statements and Speeches

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a member of the Finance Committee, released the following statement regarding the committee’s hearing on "Unlocking the Private Sector: State Innovations in Financing Transportation Infrastructure."

"I want to thank Chairman Hatch and Ranking Member Wyden for holding this important hearing about the innovative and thoughtful ways that states are identifying opportunities to work with the private sector to invest in roads, highways, and bridges. I also want to personally welcome Colorado Department of Transportation Director Shailen Bhatt, who served as Delaware's Transportation Secretary from 2011 to 2015. During that time, Shailen helped Delaware rebuild after Superstorm Sandy and oversaw emergency repairs on a critical section of Interstate 495. He also provided great leadership in helping Delaware to modernize and improve critical infrastructure around our state and provided us with a clear vision for investing in Delaware's transportation plans for the future.

"While the financing methods we’re discussing today are certainly a useful tool for states, we must not forget that they are not a solution to the looming insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund. The Highway Trust Fund needs over $90 billion just to continue providing flat funding over the next six years, and the private sector is not going to provide more than a fraction of that.

"It's understandable that with so much uncertainty about federal funding—Congress has passed 12 short-term patches to the Highway Trust Fund in the past six years alone—states are actively seeking ways to leverage the funds they do have through programs like public-private partnerships. And while public-private partnerships can serve as a means to an end by providing access to capital, they are ultimately loans that must be repaid from future tax revenues. We cannot build a great transportation system on a buy-now-pay-later plan.

"Failing to provide full funding for our federal highway system will be costly and disruptive for every state in the nation, and will undermine countless transportation projects that are critical to growing our economy. Without a long-term funding bill, states and cities will continue to lack the certainty they need to invest in projects improving and updating our roads, highways, bridges, and transit systems. While we should always be looking for ways to build transportation systems in innovative ways, the fact remains that for the majority of projects, funding, not financing, will continue to be the most effective tool we have."