Confusion Reigns Over Trump Infrastructure Plan

(The following summary borrows heavily from ARTBA’s expert analysis of the Trump budget.)
The bottom line: When all elements of the President’s budget proposal are combined, ARTBA believes it’s possible that the Trump Administration’s “Trillion-Dollar Infrastructure Initiative” will actually result in less, not more federal investment in infrastructure.
The Administration’s FY 2018 budget suggests the infrastructure initiative will involve only $200 billion in direct federal funding over the next 10 years. It says the rest, $800 billion, will materialize through a series of policy and regulatory reforms involving expansion of tolling and encouraging private investment in public works infrastructure.
Once the FAST Act expires in October 2020, the Trump Administration proposes to constrain future federal highway and transit investment to the level of incoming revenue to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). Absent congressional approval of a new revenue stream for the HTF by 2020—which the Trump budget document does not request—it notes that such a course of action would lead to a $95-billion cut in highway and transit program investment from current levels through FY 2027.
To compensate for this massive reduction, the document says, “The Administration believes that the federal government should incentivize more states and localities to finance their own transportation needs.”
According to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney:
“What we’ve effectively done is try to move money out of existing, more inefficient programs, and hold that money for what we expect to be more efficient infrastructure programs later on.”

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About Bill Reinhardt

Editor of Public Works Financing newsletter

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