President Trump Releases FY 2018 Budget Request
Includes Outline of Infrastructure Proposal
The President has submitted his full budget proposal to Congress. The budget package has received stiff bi-partisan resistance due to its substantial cuts to priority programs cherished by most in Congress. The budget also included a further glimpse into the President’s ideas on an infrastructure package. The accompanying white paper outlines key thoughts and priorities for the Administration.
The proposal represents a sort of dichotomy, on the one hand, it presents the case for Federal infrastructure investment and the need for infrastructure to support a growing economy. On the contrary, the proposal includes strong suggestions of devolving the role of infrastructure investment back to State and local governments, referencing at one point:
“We will reevaluate the role for the Federal Government in infrastructure investment. For example, in the Interstate System, the Federal Government now acts as a complicated, costly middleman between the collection of revenue and the expenditure of those funds by States and localities. Put simply; the Administration will be exploring whether this arrangement still makes sense, or whether transferring additional responsibilities to the States is appropriate.”
And then again later,
“The flexibility to use Federal dollars to pay for essentially local infrastructure projects has created an unhealthy dynamic in which State and local governments delay projects in the hope of receiving Federal funds.”
These statements present overall cause for concern about the health of the Federal Transportation program. Also, the budget cuts numerous programs including ‘New Starts,’ AMTRAK subsidies, and eliminates the TIGER program, which is unauthorized. The budget also does not deal with or discuss in any way the long-term viability of the Highway Trust Fund, in fact, the budget tables show a significant decrease in expenditures starting in FY 2021, indicating the Trump Administration has no intent to address the solvency of the Trust Fund.
Below are proposals the Administration has signaled that it will pursue as part of the Infrastructure Initiative.