AEM’s Slater: ‘Infrastructure investment is a proven engine for economic growth’

In a meeting May 25 with senators at the U.S. Capitol, Dennis Slater, president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), called on Congress to address the urgent need to rebuild America’s infrastructure and to actively pursue innovative funding approaches to finance this critical investment without increasing the deficit.

The meeting was hosted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Mark Begich and attended by fourteen other Senators including Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Senator Barbara Boxer, Chair of the Committee on Environment and Public Works. Reid and Begich organized the meeting as an opportunity for senators and leaders from business, labor and state government to strategize about how best to work together to advance comprehensive infrastructure investment legislation in Congress this year.

“We need Democrats and Republicans alike to stand up and recognize that investing in America’s crumbling infrastructure is a national imperative – critical to job creation, global competitiveness and our economic security and prosperity, now and well into the future,” said Dennis Slater, president of AEM.

“The opinion research we’ve conducted shows not only that voters nationwide overwhelmingly agree (83 percent) that modernizing and rebuilding infrastructure is both a safety and a jobs issue, but that we need to be thinking ‘outside the box’ with innovative, new funding approaches to make this critical investment without increasing the national deficit,” said Slater.

“Surprisingly, 60 percent of voters would even support a one-cent national sales tax for infrastructure that would expire in five years. What this tells us is that voters believe there is an urgent need to rebuild our infrastructure, and they are looking for leadership and action to get it done,” he affirmed.

Slater also noted that during this recession, one of the main reasons why AEM’s member companies were able to weather the economic downturn was the demand for their products overseas –  export markets – and that these opportunities will be threatened if the condition of our transportation infrastructure hampers U.S. manufacturers’ ability to get their products to market quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively.

The following organizations and individuals were also in attendance during the meeting:

AFL-CIO, Building and Construction Trades Department, president, Mark Ayers

Airports Council International, North America, president, Gregory Principato

Alaska AFL-CIO, President, Vincent Beltrami

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, president, Susan             Martinovich

American Road and Transportation Builders, president and Chief Executive Officer, Pete Ruane

American Trucking Association, chair, Barbara Windsor

Amtrak, Chief Executive Officer, Joseph Boardman

Associated Equipment Distributors, Chairman, Dennis Kruepke

Associated General Contractors of America, Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Sandherr

Building America’s Future, Co-Chair, Governor Edward G. Rendell

CSX Corp., CEO Michael Ward

Genesis High Speed Rail America, chairman, Duane Wilder

McCarran International Airport, director of aviation, Randall Walker

National Asphalt Pavement Association, past chairman, Jim Weeks

National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, president and CEO, Jennifer Joy Wilson