Detail

Trump Administration Prepares to Unveil Nationwide Infrastructure Proposal; Roundtable Submits Specific Suggestions for Innovative Infrastructure Financing Sources

  • January 26, 2018

six-page document leaked to the media this week purports to show details of the White House’s anticipated infrastructure plan just before President Trump is scheduled to offer his first State Of The Union address on Jan. 30.  White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters declined to comment on the contents of the leaked document, but said the Administration looks forward to announcing a plan "in the near future." (Axios, Jan. 22)

six-page document  leaked to the media this week purports to show details of the White House’s anticipated infrastructure plan just before President Trump is scheduled to offer his first State Of The Union address on Jan. 30.

According to the document, leaked Monday to Axios and Politico, approximately 10 percent of the plan’s funds would go to  “transformative projects” – a category that includes a “commercial space” sector that could compete for funds.  (CQ, Jan. 25)
 
The  Roundtable on Jan. 11 sent a comment letter to President Trump offering specific suggestions on how innovative financing sources may be used to help pay-for infrastructure – and how restructuring a lengthy permitting process and cutting unnecessary red tape will help control project costs and delays. 
 
Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said that permit streamlining would be an important part of an infrastructure plan. (CQ, Jan. 23).  Barrasso’s committee oversees all public works projects and the Environmental Protection Agency, which would be a path to streamlining EPA and other agencies’ permitting approvals.
 
The  Roundtable letter suggests several innovative financing sources, including:

  • Responsibly and sustainably increase the federal gas “user fee;”
  • Allow states to capture lost tax revenues from Internet sales – and devote it to infrastructure;
  • Attract more foreign investment to U.S. infrastructure by repealing or scaling back the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA);
  • Assess whether IRS “volume caps” and other limitations on private-activity bonds (PABs) should be revised to boost infrastructure development;

The Roundtable on Jan. 11 sent a comment letter to President Trump offering specific suggestions on how innovative financing sources may be used to help pay-for infrastructure – and how restructuring a lengthy permitting process and cutting unnecessary red tape will help control project costs and delays.

  • Couple successful federal loan programs (like TIFIA) with state and local “value capture” techniques to re-pay that debt – and attract private investors;
  • Develop best practices that channel public-private partnerships (P3s) for appropriate projects in appropriate geographies;
  • Prioritize the limited proceeds from the Highway Trust Fund with a “Fix it First” strategy;
  • Limit “formula grants” and move toward performance-based criteria;
  • Enact common sense reform measures that limit taxpayers’ carrying costs for exorbitant liability insurance premiums on public infrastructure projects. 
  • Ease regulatory burdens for projects of same size and scope in same location as existing infrastructure.

More details on each of the suggestions above are included in The Roundtable letter.  
 
Also this week, Special Assistant to the President for Infrastructure Policy DJ Gribbin met on Tuesday with Roundtable members in an open exchange of ideas about a national infrastructure plan.  On Thursday, Gribbin spoke to the U.S. Conference of Mayors about the Trump Administration’s upcoming plan, stating that it will not require any new funding.  Gribbin said that 200 billion dollars in existing federal funds would be shifted to infrastructure projects, which would be leveraged to attract an additional 800 billion in state and private investment. (CQ, Jan. 25)
 
Infrastructure was a major topic of discussion during The Roundtable's Jan. 24-25 State of the Industry meeting (see story above).  The Roundtable will remain engaged with policymakers as the Administration’s infrastructure plan moves forward in 2018.