An overwhelming majority of the general public ranks infrastructure investment as a top priority provided it comes in the form of new direct federal spending, according to a new poll conducted for Politico and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of public health.
When asked to rank the importance of major new spending by the federal government on roads, bridges and other infrastructure, 75 percent of nearly 500 respondents ranked it as important. Of those, 49 percent ranked it as either “very” important or “extremely” important.
President-Elect Donald Trump has cited a $1 trillion infrastructure investment package as one of his top priorities for his first 100 days in office.
However, Trump has indicated that such a package would be paid for through private investment and tax credits — revenue schemes that could lead to tolling and rest area commercialization, which NATSO opposes. NATSO has long supported boosting revenues into the Highway Trust Fund through a motor fuels tax increase.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are pushing back against private investment in favor of direct federal spending. Democrats recently called for more direct spending on infrastructure saying that a program of tax credits won’t get the job done. Rural Republicans also expressed concern that private investment would focus on financial returns for the investors rather than public need, especially in poor and rural areas.
During a Jan. 11 confirmation hearing, Trump’s nomination for Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said she believed the Trump Administration would support infrastructure legislation that included direct federal spending. However, Chao emphasized private investment and said that the federal government does not have the resources to address all the infrastructure needs within the country.
Chao said private investment should be encouraged with a “bold, new vision” and that “innovative financing tools” can “take full advantage of the estimated trillions in capital that equity firms, pension funds and endowments can invest.”
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