NCAI 2011 (National Congress of American Indians, “SENATE COMMITTEE ON INDIAN AFFAIRS HEARING: Oversight hearing on tribal transportation: Paving the way for Jobs, Infrastructure, and Safety in Native Communities,” Sep 15, http://www.indian.senate.gov/hearings/upload/Jefferson-Keel-FINAL-testimony.pdf)
After years of little investment in tribal infrastructure, America faces a national deficit of $14.2 trillion that is prompting federal budget reductions that are likely to severely impede economic investment and undermine any progress towards establishing an Indian Country economy. As federal spending become more limited the need for enhancing infrastructure in Indian Country will continue to grow.
To help address the tough economy and budget deficit, infrastructure development is still essential for tribal economic growth. To achieve this there are some issueswe would likethis Committee and Congress to address that would spur infrastructure development:
• Establishing a tribal infrastructure bank that would form an independent financial institution owned by the government and tribes. This would give tribes the ability obtain funding for a broad range of infrastructure projects, and to be able to sell or issue general purpose bonds to raise funds for lending and investment.
• The equitable access to transportation is more critical in rural tribal communities because many tribal members do not own personal vehicles and must travel long distances to get to a job or school, or even see a healthcare professional. Supporting the tribal public transportation is essential to improving transportation infrastructure in Indian Country.
• Extending the Indian Self Determination Act and Educational Assistance Act (ISDEAA) to the Department of Transportation and its modal administrations will streamline the negotiation, execution and implementation of grant, contract and funding agreements for federal transportation program funding available to tribes and more effectively target program dollars to the improvement of our tribal transportation system.
• In order for tribes to construct road projects or improve existing road routes, tribes have to go to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to acquire rights-of-way. It has been articulated by tribes that obtaining the rights-of-way is a frustrating time-consuming and costly which hampers the transportation infrastructure development.