Anyone traveling around our part of Texas knows to be ready for gridlock, as population growth has overwhelmed our roads and bridges. As we welcome new neighbors, innovative small businesses, and host international visitors for our Tricentennial celebration, outdated infrastructure becomes even more troublesome. Regularly meeting with constituents up and down I-35, I observed firsthand our needs.
Many had hoped we could at least reach bipartisan agreement on transportation improvements. Unfortunately, what the Trump Administration recently proposed would only pad the pockets of wealthy investors and further burden state and local taxpayers, while leaving major challenges unmet.
Trump’s infrastructure plan, like so much of what he proposes, is a scam. He proposes at most $15 billion annually in federal funding for all types of infrastructure – from sewers to airports – in all urban areas. It would take more than Rumpelstiltskin spinning the gold to convert this modest sum into the promised $1.5 trillion. Don’t count on swift federal help on I-35 or anywhere else.
Trump’s plan passes most of the costs to state and local taxpayers – reducing the federal funding share in urban areas from 80 percent to a mere 20 percent. By starving cities of funding unless they rely on private ownership, the real Trump goal appears to be selling off our roads and bridges to Wall Street investors, at the expense of working families.
Under his plan, a new toll road to a luxury golf course would have a greater shot of getting funded than repairing a bridge in a poorer neighborhood upon which thousands rely to get to work. For Trump’s millionaire loyalists, already rewarded with an unjust tax giveaway, Trump’s plan would enable their control of most any public asset on which they can earn a profit.
His plan to pay for this modest fund also undermines some successful initiatives that have previously benefitted Bexar County– his budget would slash $168 billion in existing programs for highways, safety programs, public transit, and Amtrak. A portion of what Trump proposes to cut would be funneled into a new program exclusively for rural areas, taking away federal support for urban, suburban, and exurban areas that could benefit our region.
I support providing sustainable, long-term funding for significant improvements to our overwhelmed roads, bridges, transit systems, ports, and airports. This will put more Americans to work in construction jobs now and improve our international competitiveness over the long term.
I am eager for a bipartisan plan, but that requires some Republican willingness to provide a dependable source of public revenues to finance long-term projects that put the public interest ahead of private profit. After more than a year of inaction and chaos, Trump submits a proposal that is so little, so late, and so phony. We must do better.