Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
Mitt Romney says he doesn't like borrowing, but he'd do it for infrastructure. Speaking at a town hall meeting in Hudson, New Hampshire this week, Romney said: "You have to prioritize those things which are most important to you and infrastructure and having good roads and bridges and rail lines and air traffic lines and so forth are essential for a strong economy. I’m willing to invest in those things and even borrow in circumstances where there’s going to be a revenue stream that pays it back." (Full transcript at end of post.)
Answering a question from voter "Ken from Nashua," the former Massachusetts Governor touted his record doubling spending in that state for bridge repair from $100 million a year to $200 million a year.
"I don't like borrowing, if it's just paying every day's expenses and then kicking on the borrowing to our kids. But if I'm willing to pay it back with a particular stream of revenue, why, that's something I'll do."
Romney mentioned tolls as one possible revenue stream. "I know that's not real popular but it's more popular than a sales tax or an income tax."
The remarks are consistent with the portrait Matt Dellinger drew of Romney earlier this week, in his piece: Mitt Romney: Metro-Friendly Moderate?
You can listen to the full remarks here:
Ken from Nashua: Through my work, I travel the U.S. roads highways and bridges and they are definitely in need of attention. However, the country has staggering debt and we need to reduce spending and make that a major priority.
As president, if you are faced with fixing a problem by spending on one hand and spending reduction on the other, how will you address our nation’s infrastructure?
Romney: Well let’s look at the highway setting to begin with. I’ll tell you what we did. When I came in as the governor of my state, I found out that we had 550 structurally deficient bridges in Massachusetts. If any of you drive down there, I’ll give you a list.
The good news is they weren’t’ ready to fall down but I knew that at some point the bridges would have a load limit changed where trucks with a heavy load limit wouldn’t be able to go over them and that would affect our commerce and could affect jobs.
And so I said look we got to go from spending what we had been spending, $100 million a year on bridge repair and move it to $200 million a year.
One of the things you have to do is prioritize those things which are most important to you and infrastructure and having good roads and bridges and rail lines and so forth and air traffic lines are essential for a strong economy. I’m willing to invest in those things and even borrow in circumstances where there’s going to be a revenue stream that pays it back
I don’t like borrowing, if its just paying every day expenses and then kicking on the borrowing to our kids here but if I’m willing to pay back with a particular stream of revenue why, that’s something I’ll do.
Here in New Hampshire you have tolls and I know that’s not real popular -- but more popular than a sales tax than an income taxi and so you have a dedicated stream of revenue, and so the state is able to build a highway or to repair bridges and the revenue stream you have pays it back
With regards to the the federal highway system we’re going to have to follow the same model.
We’re going to have to make an investment, to repair our bridges, repair our roads and have a specific dedicated revenue stream paying back those costs.
We can’t have a highway system that makes it almost impossible for our commerce to occur on an effective basis. There are lots of idea about how to do that -- do we have a bonding program of some kind that pays back, do we use tolls do we use some other method? I will be open to the kinds of ideas that come forward. But I believe we do have to invest in our basic infrastructure.