Jobs bill signed, contractors breathe again

Construction industry leaders are breathing a collective sigh of relief this week.

Battered since 2007 by nearly 1 million job losses and historic commercial construction revenue declines, industry leaders were nervous that American Reinvestment and Recovery funding might deadline or run out before some projects were completed.

That was before the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act, or “jobs bill,” was signed into law last week by the president. Prior to passage, its provisions were also reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office.

For heavy construction companies that have benefited from Colorado Department of Transportation stimulus funding, for example, the new law extended highway and transit program authorizations through December 31 at current funding levels. The law also restores states’ ability to spend money that had been rescinded.

Associated General Contractors of America chief economist Ken Simonson said as a result of the legislation’s Highway Trust Fund changes, the CBO found that “both the Highway Account and the Transit Account of the Trust Fund would be able to meet its obligations.  The CBO said while it estimated both accounts would function “in a timely manner through the end of Fiscal Year 2012, ” they “would not be able to meet obligations in a timely manner for Fiscal Year 2013.”

Among key provisions of the act were:

  • Extension of highway and transit program authorizations through December 31 at current funding levels and restores states’ ability to spend money that had been rescinded
  • Additional revenue allocated to the Highway Trust Fund, providing $4.6 billion in additional authority for Build America Bonds, which have been used extensively by state and local governments to fund infrastructure projects;
  • Extension of expensing thresholds so that taxpayers buying relatively small amounts of equipment can write off up to $250,000 in 2010 in lieu of depreciating those costs over time.