Trump infrastructure plan shifts funding to state, local governments


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP)

When President Donald Trump called for a $1.5 trillion infrastructure investment in his State of the Union address, he didn't pledge that the federal government actually would provide that much money for roads, bridges, rail and waterways.

To the contrary, Trump's plan counts on state and local governments working with private investors to come up with much of the cash.

Exactly how that would work remained unclear Wednesday, as state transportation officials noted that Trump's proposal could put more pressure on them to raise taxes, fees and tolls just to qualify for a share of his infrastructure program. Questions surrounding Trump's plan are likely to leave costly projects, such as plans for a new Hudson River tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey, in limbo.

"The Trump administration has issued a charge that sounds a lot like 'show me the money,'" said Missouri Department of Transportation Director Patrick McKenna, who is president of the Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials.

In his speech Tuesday night, Trump called upon Congress to pass a plan "that generates at least $1.5 trillion" for infrastructure.

"We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways and waterways all across our land," he said.

He did not provide a roadmap on how to achieve that or give specifics on how it would be funded. The Republican president said only that "every federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with state and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private-sector investment."

The federal government typically provides 80 percent of the funding for capital expenditures on highways, with state and local governments coming up with the rest. On transit projects, the federal share typically ranges from 50 percent to 80 percent, according to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

A six-page summary of Trump's plan, which was widely but unofficially distributed a week ahead of his speech, indicates that Trump is envisioning a significant shift of financial responsibility. Half his proposed federal money would go toward competitive grants for a wide range of infrastructure, including various transportation modes, hydropower, and drinking and wastewater facilities. But the federal grants would cover no more than 20 percent of project costs while requiring applicants to commit to "new, non-federal revenue."

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