During President Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday he increased the price tag of his promised $1 trillion infrastructure plan to a whopping $1.5 trillion.
As recently as last week, President Trump told an audience of mayors that his administration is “working to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure by stimulating a $1 trillion investment, and that will actually, probably, end up being about $1.7 trillion.”
Whether the final number ends up being $1.5, $1.7, or even the original $1 trillion investment, a lot of questions remain.
According to White House officials, the federal government is expected to spend only about $200 billion in cash and tax credits, while state and local governments as well as private investors will be expected to pick up the remaining $1.3 trillion.
Getting $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending while spending only $200 billion is leaving Congress scratching their heads.
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) “$1.5 trillion, I think, kind of sucked the oxygen out of the room for a moment, as no one expected a number that big,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla) according to Politico. “And the obvious thing is, where are we with debt and deficit and how are we going to be able to pull it together?”
Senate majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said it even simpler: “The question is, how are you gonna pay for it?”
A leaked memo last week showed that the Trump administration may be considering increasing tolls on existing roadways and leaning heavily on public-private partnerships. Some such partnerships – like the infamous Indiana Toll Roads – have had a checkered past. In fact, only 35 states even allow them.
The trucking industry is almost unanimous in its repudiation of new tolls. Even OOIDA and the ATA fall on the same side of this argument, both supporting an increase in fuel taxes over adding new tolls to existing roadways.
“If elected officials think a fuel tax increase would be unpopular, wait until Americans encounter more and higher tolling,” said OOIDA Acting-President Todd Spencer.
And while for most in the trucking industry, ‘infrastructure’ means roads and bridges, even a fully funded $1.5 trillion bill wouldn’t see all that money going to repairing our highways. Not only would it go to other transportation-related areas like airports, railroads, and canals; but also to other totally separate areas like our energy grid, power plants, water treatment and distribution systems, bike and pedestrian paths, internet and cellular infrastructure, and more.