Contracting firm leaders at the Associated General Contractors of America’s annual convention report that maintaining healthy backlogs and battling workforce shortages remain their top priorities. The convention, held in Las Vegas on March 7-9, drew more than 2,500 attendees.
However, association leaders and contractor execs say they also are working with the Trump administration and the new Congress on several key national issues. Chief among them are infrastructure funding, regulatory and tax reform, immigration, and replacement of the Affordable Care Act.
“One of the first priorities has to be fixing the Highway Trust Fund,” says incoming AGC President Art Daniel, president of AR Daniel Construction Services Inc., Cedar Hill, Texas. “And that starts with making short-term adjustments to the gas tax, then finding better ways to cover electric cars and hybrids.”
But Daniel and other AGC leaders insist that infrastructure funding must be defined broadly, beyond roads and bridges. To that end, AGC will unveil details in a few weeks about “an expansion of the business coalition” to push for infrastructure funding at all levels.
“There’s no Democrat or Republican roads,” says AGC CEO Steve Sandherr. “Infrastructure is bipartisan.” But, he adds, “It’s the business community that must carry that message to the public.”
“It’s strictly a shirts-and-skins mentality in Washington right now,” says Jeff Shoaf, AGC’s senior executive director of government affairs. “You belong to one team or the other.” But infrastructure reaches across party lines, he notes.
“One of our biggest concerns is immigration policy,” says Ken Simonson, AGC chief economist. The fear, he told attendees, is that new restrictions could worsen the industry’s already severe labor shortages.