When the Trump Administration released the FY2018 budget proposal, called “America First: A Budget Proposal to Make America Great Again,” infrastructure stakeholders around the country responded immediately. Overall, the budget is characterized by an increase in defense spending and a decrease in lots and lots of other programs, especially in infrastructure-related departments like transportation. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will release the final version in May. According to the LA Times Editorial Board, this budget reads like a “wish list of perennial GOP targets” mainly serving to “reveal the White House’s priorities,” rather than indicating actual policy changes.
Here’s what a few major players from the world of transportation have to say about America First.
Elaine L. Chao, United States Secretary of Transportation
“This is a strategic document that looks to the future, and is designed to send a clear message on deficit reduction. For DOT, it addresses the department’s discretionary programs, which make up about one-quarter of the Department’s total resources…Today’s budget announcement is the start of national dialogue about our country’s priorities for the future and how best to manage the tax dollars we are given. I look forward to working with the Department, Congress and the various stakeholders on the opportunities ahead.”
Richard A. White, CEO, American Public Transportation Association
“The American economy and communities of all sizes would be losers if the proposed reductions in the FTA Capital Investment Grants (CIG), the TIGER program, and Amtrak are enacted. As it stands now, America is already underinvesting in public transportation, as noted in the recently released American Society of Civil Engineers infrastructure report card. These proposed cuts would make the existing $90 billion of State of Good Repair gap even worse.”
U.S. Representative Bill Shuster (R-PA), Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee
“I commend President Trump for his leadership in calling for restructuring the role of the FAA. This budget takes the next step in what our committee produced last year – separating the air traffic control function from the federal government and establishing an independent, not-for-profit organization to provide this service.”
Adrea Turner, Director, Transportation for America
“This budget proposal severely undercuts the President’s stated commitment to infrastructure, and would leave behind many of the rural communities that supported him in November. After months of promises to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure, the first concrete action taken by the Trump administration on this issue is to propose drastic cuts to transportation programs that bring notable economic benefits to communities across the country, from small towns to large cities.”
Transportation Construction Coalition
“Encouraging as it is that the Trump administration’s fiscal year 2018 Budget Blueprint includes a reference to the President’s pending infrastructure package, it is disappointing that administration officials failed to include proposals to provide a permanent and sustainable solution for funding the Highway Trust Fund. As a result, the members of the Transportation Construction Coalition said the budget was a missed opportunity to address the chronic funding shortfalls that regularly threaten to undermine road, bridge and transit repair programs.”
Linda Bailey, Executive Director, National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO)
“President Trump’s proposed budget would be a disaster for cities and their transportation systems, gutting three of the most valuable Federal programs for cities across the country…The White House has proposed to stop funding transit projects through the New Starts and Small Starts program (Capital Investment Grants), which matches over $2 billion in local funding for rail, streetcar, and bus rapid transit projects every year. The budget also envisions eliminating TIGER, an extremely popular program that funds innovative projects with proven benefits in communities in all 50 states. TIGER is already underfunded: just 5% of eligible projects were funded last year. Finally, the proposed elimination of subsidies to Amtrak services, which had record ridership last year, would leave communities around the country without viable national rail connections at a time when we need more connections between our communities, not fewer.”