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Mulvaney says Trump budget will have money for wall

Mulvaney says Trump budget will have money for wall”

Trump, playing up his background in construction, had made fixing U.S. infrastructure a core campaign pledge and already announced the US$1.5 trillion plan in his State of the Union address last month.

Gov. Cuomo and former Gov. Christie had secured a funding agreement with the Obama administration to split the costs - 50 percent federally funded and 50 percent funded by NY and New Jersey.

Critics say that will lead to higher state and local taxes, and an increased reliance on user fees, such as tolls, water and sewer fees, transit fares and airline ticket taxes.

Topping the priorities in the budget plan is the $200 billion request in federal funds to spur about $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments with state, local and private partners, Mulvaney said.

The first is that the country has been under-investing in infrastructure, leading a state of growing disrepair. The American Society of Civil Engineers said previous year that the US would need to invest $4.59 trillion by 2025 to improve the country's infrastructure.

A White House official said Saturday Trump is open to discussing a federal funding plan to help pay for the $30 billion in Gateway transit projects, which include a $13 billion Hudson River tunnel between NY and New Jersey, but he won't OK paying for half the costs. Federal funding would be capped at 20 percent of the overall cost of any given project, however, leaving cities and states responsible for raising the other 80 percent. Those in which state and local governments pick up most of the tab will be viewed more favorably.

A senior administration official told reporters Saturday that President Donald Trump will call for $200 billion in new federal funds that the administration anticipates will "stimulate $1.5 trillion in new investment in infrastructure" - with states, local governments and private partnerships expected to bear the brunt of the financial burden for achieving one of the president's key campaign promises.

While Trump's plan would set aside $50 billion for rural infrastructure programs, it doesn't give special preference to projects with regional or national significance, like the Gateway project. Twenty billion will go towards expanding loan programs and private activity bonds. Another $20 billion will go to "transformative programs", or infrastructure projects rooted in promoting new or innovative ideas. These would be "projects that can lift the American spirit, that are the next-century-type of infrastructure as opposed to just rebuilding what we have now". "I'm anxious about the infrastructure bill because instead of the federal government doing what it's done since 1820 - putting money to build highways, roads - they're going to say 'let the private sector do it.' That will result in tolls, Trump Tolls I would call them, across the country, in highways that we now are able not to have tolls on".

Under Trump's plan, NY and New Jersey would have to turn to local government and private sources of funding after Trump administration officials past year rejected claims that the Obama administration committed to use federal funds for half of Gateway's cost.

The official would not say where exactly the $200 billion is being cut from in other areas of the budget - though they said "there are some reductions in things like transit funding and TIGER grants, and things where the administration thinks that infrastructure funds haven't been spent efficaciously".

The official said the default mindset for how to fund infrastructure projects needs to shift. Amtrak recently announced a record year for ridership.

A second major piece of the plan involves reforms to the federal permitting process, aimed at cutting the amount of time it takes for infrastructure projects to gain approval.

It will now be up to Congress to discuss the proposal and Trump will host lawmakers from both parties at the White House on Wednesday to make his case. "President Trump is changing the paradigm, challenging the system to modernize and bring American infrastructure into the 21st century".

White House officials said they hope the long overdue need for repairing crumbling bridges, roads and other infrastructure, and popular support for such fixes, will draw strong bipartisan support in Congress for the plan. A senior administration official said the fund would help pay for projects that may already be in the works. "This is the start of a negotiation".

The White House argues that funding is only one component of the president's infrastructure plan.



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