ATSSA Government Relations talks Trump infrastructure proposal on Facebook Live
On Tuesday, Feb. 13, American Traffic Safety Services Association’s (ATSSA) Vice President of Government Relations Nate Smith spoke to ATSSA members on Facebook Live about the newly released infrastructure proposal from The White House.
President Trump’s proposal calls for $1.5 trillion in investment in U.S. infrastructure over a ten year period, $200 billion of which would be a direct federal investment.
“It’s really going to be incumbent on the Trump administration to continue to show leadership on the need to invest in infrastructure, and a need to find a funding solution for the Highway Trust Fund,” said Smith. While the proposal was not specific to road infrastructure, it did include surface transportation, roads, and highways.
“There are several different buckets that the $200 billion – direct money from the federal government – would be falling into,” said Smith. Of the $200 billion, $100 billion will go toward infrastructure incentives, $50 billion will go toward rural infrastructure, $20 billion will go toward “transformative” projects, and $20 billion will be used for infrastructure financing.
Smith outlined each of the major components of the proposal, and what they mean for ATSSA members.
“The Infrastructure Incentives Program is an opportunity for the federal government to incentivize state and local governmental entities to raise additional revenue to support infrastructure projects…this may be an area where there will be some compromise down the road,” said Smith. The revenue generated would need to come from non-federal sources; state and local taxes, or funding through private entities.
According to Smith, the Rural Infrastructure Program could provide a big opportunity for ATSSA members.
“This is an attempt to make sure that rural America is not left behind as we talk about infrastructure…I think there are opportunities for ATSSA members to become involved in some of these areas…because it really calls for the focus of safety and efficiency as part of the application process for these projects,” said Smith. The funding for this program will be formula driven and given to areas only with a population of 50,000 or less.
Other important components of the proposal include the Transformative Projects Program and the Public Lands Infrastructure Program. The Transformative Projects Program would provide funding for “bold, innovative, transformative” projects, said Smith.
“It also is focused on significantly improving the performance for both safety and reliability, so this could potentially be – depending on what kind of infrastructure is decided here, if it’s transportation related – another area of opportunity to invest in safety projects and reduce fatalities,” said Smith.
Smith also outlined the proposal’s intent to use funds generated from energy on public lands for maintenance of public land infrastructure.
“This is important, because there’s a multi-billion dollar backlog of infrastructure projects that need to get done on public lands…this is an area where I think low-cost countermeasures such as signage and pavement markings could really come to play a part,” said Smith.
In addition to streamlining the process for federal approval of transportation projects, the Trump administration has proposed expanding Pell Grant eligibility to include short-term education programs, and reforming technical education requirements.
“The final piece of the proposal is really focusing on workforce development. This is an area that the ATSSA national Board of Directors has begun to focus on as well…many of our company members are finding it more difficult to find qualified laborers and [workers] to get the job done,” said Smith.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will now work on their respective legislative drafts on infrastructure. The ATSSA Government Relations team and its members will continue to be a part of the conversation as different proposals move forward.
The ATSSA Government Relations team will be hosting a webinar on the proposal on March 5 for ATSSA members. Learn more by clicking here. Infrastructure will also be a hot topic at the upcoming ATSSA Legislative Briefing & Fly-In (New Dates!) on April 10-11.
To see the full video of Smith’s remarks, click here. To read the full White House proposal, click here.