Trump's Infrastructure Plan Dwarfed by Estimates of Need: Civil Engineers Group Ranked the Country at a D-Plus on Infrastructure
If President-elect Donald Trump is successful with his proposed $1 trillion, 10-year program to fix America’s disintegrating and inadequate infrastructure, the states have a list of critical projects handy for him. And while a trillion could be a decent down payment, it's not nearly enough.
The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that fixing all the roads, bridges, public transit, railroads, energy systems, schools, public parks, ports, airports, waste systems, levees, dams, drinking water facilities and hazardous waste installations in the 50 states and the District of Columbia would take $3.6 trillion by 2020. That’s a little over three years from now, not the 10 years Trump is touting.
The civil engineers group has ranked the states with a "report card" on their infrastructure. No state scored higher than a C-plus. The country scored a D-plus.
That the nation’s dilapidated infrastructure appears high on the agenda of the incoming president heartens many state officials. But they’re concerned over the financing.
"The fact that [Trump] seems to go back to infrastructure as a priority, even when he's not specifically asked about it, does lend itself to the belief that it is one of the bedrock priorities of the new administration," said Joung Lee, policy director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
However, Lee said, a key part of dealing with infrastructure has to be on the “spending side,” i.e., taxes to finance the work. That’s a topic Trump is less inclined to talk about.
Instead of tax hikes, Trump has proposed a series of tax credits for infrastructure. He maintains that the money lost to the US Department of the Treasury through the tax credits would be made up by increased personal income taxes paid by workers hired on the projects and by business taxes paid by the construction companies that hire them.
University of California-Irvine business school professor Peter Navarro, a Trump adviser, estimated that every $200 billion in additional spending on infrastructure creates $88 billion more in wages and increases the nation’s economic output, or gross domestic product, by more than 1 percentage point. Navarro also said the Trump plan would provide "maximum flexibility to the states" by streamlining permits and approvals.
In a sentiment echoed by many state leaders, Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo told reporters in Providence that she would be happy to accept Trump's proposal. "We can certainly use that money for airports, money for trains, train stations and train tracks, money for roads and bridges, money for Wi-Fi," she said.
Her spokesman, David Ortiz, amplified the statement but noted that for the program to be effective it would have to be financed by "more than just tax credits."
Much of the nation’s transportation system is a state-federal responsibility, and the federal government hasn’t been investing in its share of the partnership.
Late last year, President Barack Obama signed a $305 billion transportation bill to fund roads, bridges and rail lines for four years, the longest reauthorization of federal transportation programs in more than a decade. However, the bill fell short of Obama’s $478 billion plan and it didn’t include an increase in the federal gasoline tax.
Congress hasn't raised the federal gasoline tax — the nation's most reliable source of revenue for financing roads, bridges and public transportation —since 1993. As a result the gas tax isn't keeping up with inflation, let alone a growing backlog of repairs. Nor is it producing as much revenue, as motorists have turned to more fuel-efficient vehicles.
The last time the federal government undertook a big transportation construction program was in 2009, during the Great Recession, when the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as the stimulus, was enacted. Its purpose was twofold: to build things and to put people back to work.
The "back to work" piece seemed the most important, and state officials were ordered to provide a list of "shovel ready" projects that could be undertaken immediately to fulfill the workforce goals. Critics said that meant larger, more ambitious construction projects went by the wayside.
In its final report on the effects of the stimulus, the Obama White House said it had improved more than 40,000 miles of road and fixed or replaced 2,700 bridges. But, with about 58,000 bridges needing repair, the stimulus barely made a dent.
- Something Old, Something New: Wearing Red to Show Solidarity in Major Cities All Over the World
- Are the Courts Finally Ready to Deem the Religious or Racial Exclusion of Immigrants Unconstitutional?
- Janet Yellen: Adjustment of the Federal Funds Rate May Be Appropriate Later This Month?
- Updated: This Rule Just Negated by President Trump Through Executive Order: The Stream Protection Rule That Protected Drinking Water for 100 Million in the US
- Coretta Scott King: Jeff Sessions Would ‘Irreparably Damage’ My Husband’s Work
- Jo Freeman Writes An open letter to Donald Trump about the Women’s March on Washington
- Executive Order - - - Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal
- Protesting the Inaugural: The Day Before
- Interstate Health Insurance: Sounds Good, But Details Are Tricky
- Department of Homeland Security: Staying Safe Online While On-the-Go this Holiday Season