Transportation

Trump Infrastructure: Plan is Out, Details to Come

This morning the Trump Administration released its $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan.

After much speculation the sources of funding for such an investment, conservatives should be pleased to hear the Trump administration is not looking to create a massive spending bill to shove through Congress. From an accountability perspective, the White House believes that for too long, locals have delayed projects while waiting for federal grants to come through, creating a strong disincentive to develop their own revenue generating sources.

Even though the federal government contributes very little to the nation’s overall infrastructure spending, most projects are still bogged down by the rules, regulations and mandates of federal law. Instead, the administration wants to focus on slashing regulations and speeding up the approval processes for state and local projects.

With this, the administration will find $200 billion in the budget to create competitive grants, low-cost loans, block grants for rural infrastructure and investment in ‘transformative’ projects that utilize new technologies. Out of the $200 billion, only $10 billion will be funneled toward actual federal infrastructure. The administration is hoping this approach will spur $1.3 trillion in new infrastructure spending by states, localities and private companies.

Under the Obama administration, infrastructure spending was designed to be a stimulus for economic growth; the Trump administration is focused on meaningful infrastructure improvements and quality gains rather than massive spending with little beyond job creation as a success metric.

Most federal infrastructure spending will stay the same; however, the administration is looking to cut funding from Amtrak and grants it deems historically ineffective. Most of the programming with grants and loans has focused on megaprojects, which can take up to a decade for approval. The administration is well aware that locals know best when it comes to investing in their own communities.

The spending plan offers no fix to the Highway Trust Fund, which has operated in the red for many years and is dependent upon gas taxes that haven’t been raised since 1993. The administration is hopeful their approach will help this fund become more sustainable but would still like to work with Congress to seek out a long-term fix.

In the end, while the administration is hopeful for success with their infrastructure plan, this could be a major lift for Congress in an election year. When it comes to spending and investment, getting the two chambers to agree within a few weeks could pose a challenge. The most effective and promising part of the plan is the push to streamline the regulatory permitting process. Success here will ensure investment in infrastructure happens as needed instead of after a major accident or infrastructure failure occurs.

Read the full White House Infrastructure Plan here. If you have any questions or would like further details, do not hesitate to contact Robert Ordway. We will send out emails and host conference calls as needed.


In Depth: Transportation

Maintaining a functional and healthy infrastructure is one of the cornerstones to economic growth. State transportation policy should encourage the use of public-private partnerships to build and maintain infrastructure, give states the flexibility to determine how to best utilize transportation dollars and remove unnecessary burdens to innovation. Adopting free-market policies …

+ Transportation In Depth