When we discussed President Obama’s plans for a new Water Finance Center and a new type of bond to finance water infrastructure projects in our January 21 and 28 blog posts , we said that while we thought those ideas held promise, we retained a bit of skepticism over the source of their funding, and wondered in particular if the Administration might seek to pay for them through cuts to the EPA’s State Revolving Fund (SRF) allotment. Given that the President has proposed significant cuts to the SRF program in the past, including hundreds of millions of dollars in proposed cuts in early 2014, we were on the lookout for similar cuts in his fiscal year 2016 budget plan. We promised to scrutinize the details of that plan, and we did. Unfortunately, we were right to be skeptical. Despite its generosity to infrastructure generally (requesting $478 billion to be spent on the Highway Trust Fund and mass transit projects over the next six years), the President’s budget proposes cuts of $54 million from the Clean Water SRF and Drinking Water SRF, from $2.356 billion to $2.302 billion. .
As we have noted before, preserving SRF funding is critical because these funds finance projects that not only deliver clean water but grow our economy by providing jobs and supporting businesses in rural, urban and suburban communities all over the country. CWC believes that these proposed cuts are misguided, and reflect a failure to recognize the comprehensive and intertwined nature of our infrastructure. Our country’s infrastructure is not only the roads that carry our products to market, but the water treatment and delivery systems that allow our businesses to produce goods and services that rely on use of those roads. We will be lobbying strenuously to prevent water infrastructure funding from being a casualty of the 2016 budget process, and we will keep you updated on our efforts.