Mixed Bag for Infrastructure Accounts

On March 16, the Trump administration outlined its budget for fiscal year 2018(link is external), which calls for cuts to transportation, water and public housing infrastructure. However, the budget outline also calls for increased construction funding for the southern border wall and an unspecified amount for military construction to address “degraded facilities.” Notable policy initiatives include implementation of mandatory nationwide use of the E-Verify Program and a reduction of federal agency enforcement programs.

The preliminary budget proposal includes a dramatic cut of 31 percent to the Environmental Protection Agency (read more(link is external) about how this could impact water infrastructure programs). Specific highlights from the budget include:

  • Decreases to federal support for job training and employment service formula grants amid a construction workforce shortage;
  • Elimination of unspecified Occupational Safety and Health Administration training grants, which likely includes the Susan Harwood Safety Training grants that AGC has been a recipient of;
  • Elimination of funding for the unauthorized TIGER discretionary grant program, approximately a $499 million cut under the existing FY 2017 government funding bill;
  • Limited funding for the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Program (New Starts) to projects with existing full funding grant agreements only;
  • Funding $900 million for the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects grant program, authorized by the FAST Act of 2015, which supports larger highway and multimodal freight projects with demonstrable national or regional benefits;
  • Funding $2.3 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Water and Wastewater Infrastructure State Revolving Funds, a $4 million increase over the existing FY 2017 government funding bill;
  • Providing $20 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program;
  • Elimination of the Department of Agriculture’s nearly $500 million Water and Wastewater Loan and Grant Program, instead relying on the private sector or other federal investments in rural water infrastructure, such as the EPA’s State Revolving Funds;
  • Elimination of $3 billion for  the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant  program; and
  • Reduction of the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance by $129 million compared to the existing FY 2017 government funding bill.

As with most presidential budgets, this document serves mostly in an advisory capacity to Congress, and many of the cuts proposed by the White House will face hurdles there. It should be noted that this budget document is a broad layout for how the Trump administration would like to see federal funds allocated. A more detailed budget is expected to come out in May. Additionally, the administration asked for a separate Security Supplemental(link is external) of $30 billion for 2017. AGC will continue to call for adequate infrastructure investment and sensible construction industry policies as Congress considers the president’s budget.