Infra moves to top of Trump’s agenda

A plan focusing on localised decision-making is expected later this month, as the president looks to make good on his $1trn promise.

Infrastructure has reportedly moved to the top of US President Donald Trump’s 2018 agenda, with a plan expected to be released as soon as this month.

Although during Trump’s first year in office there were a number of false starts on the issue, including his now-infamous “infrastructure week,” there are signs a proposal may finally be imminent. Trump planned to tell Republican leaders to make infrastructure the top legislative priority of 2018, according to USA Today. And Congressman Bill Shuster, the top Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, announced he will forgo a re-election campaign to focus on passing an infrastructure bill.

While there are many more questions than answers regarding what will be in the upcoming legislation, the outlines of the plan are beginning to take shape. A report published on Monday by Brookings Institution noted that federal investment is expected to be focused on three priorities: funding rural areas, backing transformational projects, and rewarding states and municipalities that raise revenues.

Private investors will be expected to provide funding alongside states and localities, complementing $200 billion in federal spending in what has been touted as a $1 trillion package. Previous plans floated by the administration provided federal incentives either to private investors or to states that privatise assets. Both initiatives have receded, however, since Trump said in September that public-private partnerships do not work.

“It does not seem that P3s or private investment in general is taking on the massive size that was initially envisioned,” Joseph Kane, a Brookings research fellow and a co-author of the think tank’s recently published report, told Infrastructure Investor.

Still, the need for new revenues could lead states to seek private investment, the Brookings report noted.