A leaked report on the long-awaited infrastructure project may show the White House’s priorities and how the project will approach funding.
The report, attributed to the White House and released by Politico Monday, lays out the “funding principles” and the “principles for infrastructure improvements” in President Donald Trump’s plan to revitalize U.S. infrastructure.
A central promise of Trump’s presidential campaign, the infrastructure package — which Trump has said would be as much as $1 trillion in total value — took a backseat in 2017 to Obamacare repeal, then to the Tax Cuts and Jobs act which was signed into law in December. Infrastructure is a priority for Trump in 2018, though the immediate fight will be centered on federal spending and immigration.
The leaked plan suggests putting 50 percent of any funds into incentives for public-private partnerships on infrastructure projects.
An additional 25 percent would be allocated for encouraging investment partnerships in rural areas, including improving transportation and freight movement, broadband, water and electricity systems in remote areas.
Ten percent of the appropriated funds would go to incentivizing “transformative projects” based on “exploratory and ground-breaking ideas” that have a higher risk than most infrastructure projects, but could potentially reap a higher reward.
The plan would put 7 percent of appropriated funds toward Federal Credit Programs, and 5 percent to Federal Capital Financing Fund, to improve access to federal loans for infrastructure.
The principles for improvements offer some insight into the administration’s thinking around infrastructure. For example, one suggestion is to allow “states flexibility to toll on interstates and reinvest toll revenues in infrastructure.”
The White House did not comment on the specifics of the proposal or verify its authenticity. “We are not going to comment on the contents of a leaked document but look forward to presenting our plan in the near future,” White House spokeswoman Lindsey Walters told Politico.
One obstacle for the infrastructure improvement, which both parties agree is an important issue, is the timeline for approving projects. The federal and state approval process often takes years.
“Even if the United States invested a trillion dollars in infrastructure today, it is highly unlikely we would see a comparable economic benefit in the near term, as most of the largest and projects require five years or more to review,” Philip Rossetti, a policy expert at American Action Forum, wrote in an October report.
The leaked proposal doesn’t suggest substantial changes to the approval process, but does suggest dispensing federal approval for projects with minimal federal involvement.
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