Tag Archives: new york state infrastructure

Sold Out Futures by State in 2016: Debt and Infrastructure

Debt and infrastructure investment are supposed to go together.   State and local governments have operating budgets and capital budgets, and constitutions and charters that say that while money may be borrowed for capital improvements, the operating budget is supposed to be balanced.

During the Generation Greed era, however, that isn’t what has happened. For the U.S. as a whole, total state and local government debt increased from 14.1% of U.S. residents’ personal income in FY 1981 to 22.7% in FY 2010, even as infrastructure investment diminished. This was a matter of generational values, not just a matter of government.  One finds the same trend in business – more debt, less investment – during the same years, with the short term high of having more taken out relative to the amount put in contributing to perpetual political incumbency and sky-high executive pay.  A generation, it seems, has decided to cash in the United States of America and spend to proceeds before it passes away.

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Infrastructure: Census of Governments Data

Note:  this is an obsolete post based on the 2012 Census of Governments.  Read this one, based on the 2017, 2007 and 1997 Census of Governments instead.  

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2020/05/26/transportation-infrastructure-2017-census-of-governments-data/

Or, for decades of data on infrastructure capital construction for all 50 states, read this.

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2018/12/12/sold-out-futures-by-state-in-2016-debt-and-infrastructure/

Continuing with the older post as written years ago.

The United States, based on press reports, is heading for an infrastructure crisis that today’s politicians are desperate to ignore, in the hopes that their generation can avoid paying for it and pass on before the consequences hit those coming after. In the suburbs and Sunbelt the post-WWII infrastructure, often built with federal money redistributed from older cities, is reaching the point where substantial rehabilitation and replacement will be required. But no one wants to pay. In New York State, one sees this in the financial drama over the replacement of the 1954-built Tappan Zee Bridge, and the insistence that tolls be kept far lower on the new bridge than in the Port Authority Crossings to the south, or the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority crossings within New York City.

Even where the infrastructure has been maintained money has been borrowed for past maintenance, and the interest on that debt now consumes revenues that were supposed to be reserved for transportation. There is no real money for the next MTA Capital plan, most of which is maintenance. Almost all the money being paid into the New York State transportation trust fund for roads and bridges is going to past debts, as is all the money going in to the New Jersey transportation trust fund. Twenty years of selfishness by Generation Greed politicians has come home to roost, and the wolf is at the door. And yet their more recent replacements – New York City Mayor DeBlasio, New York State Governor Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Christie, President Obama, and whoever will follow the indicted and should-be indicted members of the state legislatures and Congress – want to do nothing but close their eyes and hope it goes away. It is in this depressing context that the following post will review data on Infrastructure revenues and expenditures from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Census of Governments.

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