President Trump has unveiled his $1.5 trillion plan to overhaul America’s infrastructure. Governor Bryant was in Washington D.C. to hear the details of the plan, and discuss the future of Mississippi’s own infrastructure.
Honored to be at the White House to hear @realDonaldTrump unveil his plan to upgrade and modernize American infrastructure. The plan will return decision-making authority to the states, invest in rural America, eliminate regulatory burdens and streamline the permitting process. pic.twitter.com/KMg2JRAnTL
— Phil Bryant (@PhilBryantMS) February 12, 2018
The plan would receive $200 billion from the federal government with the remainder to be made up by local cities and towns along with assistance from the private sector when necessary. Governor Bryant says that getting investments from these areas would allow each party to have some “skin in the game” to ensure that everyone does their part to keep the infrastructure strong. Not only does the Governor believe that the deal with have a positive impact on roads and bridges, but on the economy as a whole.
“If you’ve got a business and you’ve got the roads and bridges; you’ve got to maintain those. You have to invest in those or else no one will be able to drive up to your hotel, and nobody is going to be able to park in your parking garage,” Governor Bryant said. “So you hire a contractor, he hires 150 crew members, they go home and say ‘I’m working overtime, let me go by that new truck I’ve always wanted,’ the salesman says ‘I’ve sold enough pickup trucks, I can buy a home’ and the economy begins.”
A section of the new tax code creates a tax deduction for capital gains if a company invests them in local infrastructure in a rural area. Another key portion of the plan deals with eliminating regulations and shortening the permitting process which can take up to ten years.
“25% of building roads and bridges is permitting, going through these federal agencies, doing the environmental impact study, and trying to deal with 16 different federal agencies. We’re going to get that number down to one, and we’re going to get permitting down to two years; hopefully much less than that. The savings from that will be astronomical.”
The Governor says that they must work to create better deals to bring the cost of building down across the country. A statistic given by Governor Bryant was that it may cost over a million dollars for a mile stretch of highway to be built, and the chances to decrease that number would bring a renewed sense of investment in American infrastructure. When it comes to opportunities created for Mississippi, Governor Bryant says that this could be beneficial to all corners of the state.
Also in attendance at the meeting was Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs, who scored a seat right next to President Trump. One of the projects mentioned was a potential new port in Vicksburg, which Flaggs says could have a nationwide impact.
This port would allow them to transport road material like never before, and at a much cheaper rate. It’s quicker to come to Vicksburg than to go to the Gulf Coast, and if we can work this out it would be a game changer, not only for this region but for the state of Mississippi and the nation. We would be the only port on the Mississippi River adjacent to I-20 and have the rail at the same time.”
An emphasis of the plan is the rebuilding of rural communities, and Senator Thad Cochran agrees that it is a much-needed focus and that this plan is an important step in the process.
“President Trump’s initiative to rebuild and improve infrastructure around the country is ambitious. It will be up to Congress to review the plan carefully and develop legislation to put this plan in motion. I particularly like the plan’s attention to assisting rural states and to lessening the costly bureaucratic permitting process for many public works—both of which would be beneficial to Mississippi.”
The plan has received early criticism from Democratic leaders including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who says that the plan would do nothing but put a burden on local communities.
“The president’s infrastructure proposal would do very little to make our ailing infrastructure better, but would put unsustainable burdens on our local government and lead to Trump tolls all over the country,” Schumer said.
While Democratic mayors and governors were in attendance at the White House meeting, Governor Bryant says that the criticism shows that top Democrats are not willing to work with the President.
“Infrastructure was going to be the golden bipartisan rule, everybody was going to work together,” Governor Bryant recalled. “How many times have we heard Democrats say infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. Then the President comes out and says that we’ve got $200 billion in growth and savings that were going to put into this plan, and it’ll generate $1.5 trillion, thousands of jobs and save lives. The first thing they say is ‘not enough’, ‘we don’t like it, we don’t know the details of it, but we don’t like it’, well they need to get out of the way because we are going to push forward.”
While the plan will be in the headlines over the next few weeks, it may have to wait until the fall until the bill is workable. By then the Mississippi legislative session will have concluded, but Governor Bryant said that he may be in favor of a special session in the fall after the federal bill is finished to ensure that the money in Mississippi is maximized.
“The legislative process does a lot of strange things, but the President has his jaw set on this so he wants to get it done,” the Governor said. “There will be some variation and changes, and that’s to be expected. So, everyone needs to take a deep breath, let’s not all say we have got to have every detail of the plan today.”
Fox News projects that the plan would double the projected 2019 fiscal deficit and sees an accumulating deficit of $7.2 over the next ten years.