Fixing America’s decrepit infrastructure shouldn’t be controversial—it enhances competitiveness, creates jobs, and helps the environment. And of course, it protects the public.
The total investment needed through the end of this decade for infrastructure is $1.7 trillion, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. Why would politicians decrease the ability of a local community, county or state to improve their infrastructure? Well, let’s ask Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas). SB 2415 eliminates the ability of local and state governments to utilize billions of dollars to create jobs and improve critical infrastructure. We aren’t talking about new taxes; we are talking about the ability of local and state governments to utilize low-interest-rate money to fund new infrastructure projects.
The EB-5 program provides a method of obtaining a green card for foreign nationals who invest money in the United States. Individuals must invest $1,000,000 (or at least $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area - high unemployment or rural area), creating or preserving at least 10 jobs for U.S. residents. It is a way of funding projects in the United States with low-interest loans. So, why would a bill be introduced not allowing the same access by local and state governments in utilizing this low-interest-rate money?
If a private developer can utilize more low-cost money, developers make more money. With $1.7 trillion in infrastructure needs, cities and states are a huge threat to utilize this cash. So, what benefit is it to politicians to ensure that developers are making more money? Local and state governments don’t donate to campaigns. Real estate developers do. Schumer, Flake, and Cornyn all received major donations from wealthy real-estate developers.
The findings, based on data from campaign finance watchdog site OpenSecrets, illustrate the ever-expanding role of industry money in U.S. politics. Schumer, New York’s senior senator, received $1.09 million in campaign donations since 2011 from real estate interests. Within the donor list is Related Companies and Silverstein Properties, two development firms that have utilized more than $600 million in EB-5 money for real estate development. Flake has raised over $340,000 from the real estate industry, OpenSecrets data show. Cornyn has raised over $500,000.
SB 2415 ensures that only the private real estate industry’s is allowed to use EB-5 funds for projects in prime urban locations like midtown Manhattan. The bill specifically states, “Alien investor capital may not be utilized, by a new commercial enterprise or otherwise, to purchase municipal bonds or any other bonds.” Municipal bonds are what fund infrastructure. They create jobs and improve our roads, bridges, schools and other critical infrastructure. With this provision, it eliminates the ability of local and state governments to utilize this same low-cost money to create critical jobs and improve infrastructure.
Fittingly, the bill is called the “EB-5 Integrity Act.” We elected these officials to show integrity and represent the people, not just the wealthy real estate developers.
- New York
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