Recent Entries to the Policies and Politics Blog
Tax reform was an area that many who care about infrastructure held out hope. Would Congress fix the Highway and Transit Trust Funds by indexing the gas tax for inflation? Would new tax incentives be created to foster greater private sector investment in a variety of infrastructure asset classes? Would loopholes be closed to bring off-shore funds back to invest in America? Could we create a new tax credit to address housing displacement and stabilize neighborhoods? The answer to each is a resounding no. Rather than recognize and respond both to the need and the bipartisan demand for infrastructure investment that benefits the economy, the environment and the average American, this Congress provides a sucker punch.
Read my latest reflections from this year's Rail~Volution, my pitch for voting on the 50 Most Influential Urbanists, and highlights of new research by AARP and MZ Strategies documenting how states, regions and localities are stepping forward to support transit-oriented development and walkable urbanism. We still have far to go to restore the walkability and vibrancy in our communities so that living well without a car becomes more viable, but many places are stepping up. While a start, we need many more to follow suit.
Sharing musings on a new initiative MZ Strategies, LLC is proud to be a part of working with an amazing group of partners to launch the Strong Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC). SPARCC is designed to support local cross-sector collaboratives working in six regions to develop policies and projects that advance racial equity, climate and public health goals. These six regions – Memphis, Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay Area – each have created their own visions for how community-led investment can create stronger neighborhoods that intentionally work to stem displacement and create shared prosperity for existing and future residents and entrepreneurs. Additional thoughts on gentrification, including reading recommendations.
Five years ago, I launched MZ Strategies, LLC with the crazy idea that I could bring my passion and almost twenty years of experience in policy and planning to support partners who shared a desire to make communities more inclusive, economically-vibrant and sustainable. Since then, we have worked with a terrific group of partners, communities, and organizations working to achieve this vision. Policies change, shift and adapt to face the problems and assets unique to every community, but common across the nation.
Infrastructure is key to the national economy and to the economic opportunity that every Amercian faces. Safe water. Affordable energy. Mobility and accessibility. We have artificially made infrastructure investment a zero-sum game by letting the “no tax” voices win. Infrastructure is the ultimate public good. Public investment in all forms of infrastructure costs the individual user less than paying for it through user feeds, or perhaps not even getting the service if it’s too cost prohibitive for the private sector. Yes, it’s time to build, but even more importantly, it’s time to think.