CDFA is the voice of development finance on Capitol Hill and with the federal Administration and provides leadership on policy decisions that impact the industry. CDFA is a non-partisan, non-political institution that supports sound public policy and the leadership involved in making important decisions affecting development finance. Each year CDFA produces a Policy Agenda and works with legislators and federal officials to advance these initiatives. In addition, CDFA holds briefings, trainings and advises legislative and federal stakeholders on numerous topics.
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CDFA has crafted the following 2017 Policy Agenda. Click on the individual Policy Areas to learn more about each initiative. View and download a printable version of the Policy Agenda here.
Policy Area 1:
Support American Manufacturing
Strengthening the American manufacturing sector is one policy proposal that has always received strong bipartisan support, and for good reason. Nine percent of America’s workforce is employed in manufacturing, equaling roughly 12 million Americans. Of equal importance is the tremendous multiplier effect manufacturing has on the rest of the economy; for every $1 spend on manufacturing, another $1.81 is added to the economy. Yet for an industry that has such an outsized role as a growth engine for the American economy, the tools available to support manufacturers are limited and, in many cases, outdated. CDFA is working with federal and legislative partners to bring manufacturing finance tools in line with the 21st century economy.
Policy Area 2:
Preserve and Strengthen Tax-Exempt Bonds
Tax-exempt bonds are a federally authorized development finance tool that helps stimulate public and private investment in a wide variety of economic sectors. Three-quarters of the total United States investment in infrastructure is accomplished with tax-exempt bonds, which are issued by over 50,000 state and local governments and authorities, representing a $3 trillion dollar industry. Tax-exempt bonds have served as the primary financing mechanism for public infrastructure and have been exempt from federal tax – just as federal debt is exempt from state and local tax – for more than a century. Attempts to curb or repeal the municipal exemption would dramatically increase the cost of infrastructure projects to the detriment of the public who will have to bear those increases, and undermine the efforts of America’s state and local governments to move their communities forward.
Policy Area 3:
Catalyze Small Business and Entrepreneurial Expansion
Although large companies and multi-national corporations seem to dominate our national consciousness with news stories on major investments and the many high-profile commercial advertisements they generate, small business remains the backbone of the U.S. economy. Nearly 61 percent of all firms with paid employees have a staff of just four people or less, and 55 percent of all existing American jobs have been supported by small business since 1970. Additionally 61 percent of all net new jobs have been created in the small business sector. It is no exaggeration to say that small businesses in the U.S. carry a disproportionately large burden to employ the 149.5 million people in the labor force compared to large enterprises. Because of the vital role small business plays in the U.S. economy, CDFA will continue to work with federal and legislative partners to lower capital access barriers for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Policy Area 4:
Reduce Barriers to Clean Energy through Credit Enhancement
For much of the past 15 years, the growth in the clean energy industry has relied on the provision of grants, incentives, rebates, policy initiatives, and technical support from state clean energy programs. The federal government has also invested heavily in the clean energy sector, with loans, grants, and other subsidies for energy development made available through 10 different federal agencies. While public funds have been essential in creating a market for clean energy production, the continued growth of this sector will be limited as long as it relies primarily on public subsidies. A more integrated approach is required; one that continues the important public role of providing incentives and technical support for the adoption of clean energy technologies, while at the same time providing public financial support in the form of credit enhancement to leverage private capital.
Policy Area 5:
Reform and Bolster Infrastructure Financing Tools
In their 2013 Report Card, the American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the United States a D+ for the poor overall condition of its infrastructure. The ASCE analysis of American infrastructure evaluated drinking and wastewater infrastructure, aviation networks, highways, bridges, ports, levees, and railways. CDFA recommends that the Administration and Congress focus on improving the delivery method of existing federal infrastructure finance programs, expedite the rollout of authorized programs that will encourage public-private partnerships, and push for the approval of several small legal and tax code reforms that would unlock significant capital for infrastructure projects and redevelopment.
Policy Area 6:
Stabilize and Improve the Federal Financing Delivery System
Access to federal capital is critical and extremely beneficial to state and local government and private sector investment in economic development projects. Access to capital is paramount to leveraging private capital as shown by dozens of creative federal programs aimed at encouraging private sector investment. Nonetheless, both the public and private sector have struggled with the use and engagement of federal resources due to the lack of predictability and reliability of the programs offered by the federal government. This uncertainty had hurt the implementation and long-term effectiveness of this assistance.