When President Obama sends his 2011 budget plan to Capitol Hill, he will propose freezing non-defense discretionary spending—which includes most construction programs—at 2010’s level for the next three years. Construction executives hope Obama will keep some infrastructure line items unscathed or maybe even recommend some hikes. But the final numbers are up to Congress and won’t emerge until after months of partisan, election-year budget battling. Complicating the picture further, Democrats have seen their razor-thin, filibuster-proof 60-vote majority slip to a vulnerable 59 votes with Republican Scott Brown’s win in the Jan. 19 Massachusetts Senate race. + Image On the Board:
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.