Published: Mon, February 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Here's what's in the Trump administration's $200 billion infrastructure plan

Here's what's in the Trump administration's $200 billion infrastructure plan

A White House official said Saturday Trump is open to discussing a federal funding plan to help pay for the $30 billion in Gateway transit projects, which include a $13 billion Hudson River tunnel between NY and New Jersey, but he won't OK paying for half the costs. The White House would offset the new spending with unspecified cuts in other areas of the budget. The plan includes a 3-trillion dollar deficit reduction over 10 years with big corporate tax cuts. "They can sell bonds, use public private partnerships, create user fees, etc".

The rest of the money would support other infrastructure-related undertakings, including existing loan programs like the one operated by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, which White House officials said could leverage up to $40 in local and private money for every $1 in federal investment.

The proposal includes 200 billion dollars in federal funds for infrastructure spending over the next 10 years, and 18 billion dollars over 2 years to build a wall on the border with Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants.

Grants or match requests will be chosen based on a rating system, the larger the share of non-federal revenue they already intend to invest in the project, the higher the score.

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"I do have doubts that it's going to generate the infrastructure investment with local funds", said Pagano, citing his annual survey, which found last summer that municipal general funds still haven't rebounded to their 2006 level before the Great Recession hit.

The administration official suggested Gateway could seek funding from both the $100 billion and the transformative program funds. "So you don't have to spend all that", he said. "So there's not a 20 percent minimum, or maximum federal, but it's all about, how do we get people to compete around in projects that they truly care about?"

A senior administration official insisted the plan was not shifting responsibilities to the states.

"We need a real commitment from the federal government to improve our nation's aging infrastructure, not a smoke-and-mirrors magic act that ultimately leads to folks paying more for less in the form of toll hikes and fare increases", said Menendez, D-N.J. The American Society of Civil Engineers said a year ago that the US would need to invest $4.59 trillion by 2025 to improve the country's infrastructure. At least as important is a plan to to shorten the permitting process for projects so that obtaining a permit takes no longer than two years, one administration official said. The plan is created to spur $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending but only includes $200 in federal funding. The current permitting structure is overly concerned with preventing litigation and not enough on outcomes, the official said.

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