President Trump’s newly released budget plan includes several provisions that could have a massive impact on the trucking industry.
“Liberalized” Toll Policies To Encourage Private Sector Investment In Infrastructure
One of the most impactful revelations from the President’s budget plan is a call to encourage private investment in infrastructure by relaxing restrictions on tolling. By allowing private investors more freedom to toll, Trump hopes to encourage them to take up more responsibility for building and maintaining the nation’s highways and bridges. From a White House fact sheet: “Tolling is generally restricted on interstate highways. This restriction prevents public and private investment in such facilities. We should reduce this restriction and allow the States to assess their transportation needs and weigh the relative merits of tolling assets.”
The Trump budget plan also encourages private sector entities to build and maintain public rest areas: “The Administration also supports allowing the private sector to construct, operate, and maintain interstate rest areas, which are often overburden and inadequately maintained.”
The Trump administration appears to be firmly committed to the idea of privatizing the nation’s infrastructure. From the budget plan: “The administration’s goal is to seek long-term reforms on how infrastructure projects are regulated, funded, delivered and maintained. Providing more federal funding, on its own, is not the solution to our infrastructure challenges.”
DOT Faces Major Budget Cuts
The proposed budget plan would also slash the Department of Transportation budget by 13% — or $2.4 billion. This leaves the DOT with a discretionary budget of $16.2 billion.
The budget plan promises to invest $1 trillion (or more) in infrastructure spending, with “$200 billion in outlays related to the infrastructure initiative.”
Democrats Condemn Trump Budget Plan
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the Trump budget plan a “180-degree turn away from his repeated promise of a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan.”
The budget plan has met with serious opposition from the Democratic party. Said Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio: “The Budget pretends to increase infrastructure investments by $200 billion, but that is a sham.“