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Trumpís $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan in brief
Kirill Abbakumov   on Thursday, February 22, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

On February 12, 2018, the White House has released its long-awaited vision of a new federal infrastructure overhaul, which would total $1.5 trillion. The infrastructure plan comprises mainly two parts: grant funding and regulatory reform.

The plan calls for $200 billion over 10 years in new federal spending, with the goal of leveraging those dollars to yield a total of $1.5 trillion in new spending and financing for infrastructure projects across the country. In addition to the grant components and regulatory reforms mentioned in the plan, the plan also dedicates sections to workforce development reforms, designed to support work-based learning, career and technical education.

There are four main components of the plan, three of which involve funding allocations and one which deals with regulatory streamlining measures:

  • The first component accounts for 50% of the new package’s funding and would go towards a new “incentives program,” which economic developers could access to cover as much as 20% of funding towards an infrastructure project. Traditionally, the federal government has contributed as much as 80% towards infrastructure projects. This change, which only applies to this infrastructure plan, would call for local governments to increase their financial contribution for a project, whether it be from existing revenue shifting or private sector partnerships.
  • The second component is dedicated to rural infrastructure, allocating $50 billion for infrastructure in communities with 50,000 residents or less. Grant program funding would be controlled by state governors, who would determine which projects the funding supports. Plan language implies that local investments from public or private sectors may be expected. Transportation, broadband water resources, storm water and waste water infrastructure, and power and electric facilities are named as prime sectors for these funds.
  • The third grant program calls for $20 billion to go towards “transformative projects.” This notion would build upon President Trump’s calls during the 2016 presidential campaign for new, transformative projects of “national significance.” The availability of funds would be determined by the projects’ stages: 30% for demonstration; 50% for planning; and 80% for capital construction.
  • The plan’s final funding component calls for the expansion of federal loan programs to $14 billion, many of which are used by economic developers, local, and state governments. These lending programs, the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation loans, Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation loans and Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program, provide low interest loans for projects.

Considerable focus has also been given to the streamlining of the permit process for undertaking infrastructure projects. Most notably, the administration has introduced a “One Agency, One Decision” process in which one lead agency would be responsible for greenlighting project permits.

The White House has stated it is open to revisions to their plan, as Congress will be tasked with crafting legislation. It has been suggested that as many as 11 separate congressional committees could have sections of jurisdiction within the infrastructure package as they process the plan into a legislative text.