Uncertainty around federal infrastructure spending continues to hinder states from having the confidence to proceed with large infrastructure projects, economist Anirban Basu told attendees at the Construction Financial Management Association’s 36th annual conference.

With FAST Act funding tied up in appropriations and the Highway Trust Fund approaching a funding “cliff” in 2020, “it’s time to get things done,” Basu says. “But I don’t hear any talk out of Washington, D.C., about replenishing the Highway Trust Fund.”

Stuart Binstock, CFMA president and CEO, says the group’s members “are a cautious group, and political uncertainty is never something that they like to see.”

Held in Phoenix on June 3-8, the conference provided 1,300 financial professionals with networking opportunities and educational sessions, centered on risk management, accounting, technology and human resources. New attendees comprised about 30% of the record-setting attendance, says Binstock. 

Despite political unknowns, staffing shortages were front and center for most CFMA members at the conference. “It’s the top concern among our members by about five-fold over any other issue,” Binstock says.

The job market’s competitive atmosphere creates risk around the hiring process, says Kathy Cole, president of executive search firm DK Cole Co. “Learning [at the conference] about rapid changes in salary and benefit plans is a really critical issue for companies,” she notes.