President Trump’s fiscal year 2019 budget request seeks deep cuts for many construction accounts and some increases. But if the proposal, released on Feb. 12, gets the same Capitol Hill reception as his 2018 plan did, Congress will go its own way in drawing up 2019 numbers. Appropriators probably won’t start on the 2019 bills for a while. They are busy trying to wrap up 2018 spending measures by late March.
Industry groups oppose the proposed 2019 cuts. They include a plan to end the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant program and a 59% reduction in transit capital grants. American Public Transportation Association CEO Paul Skoutelas said those reductions are “a big mistake and counterproductive to fostering prosperous communities.”
Trump did ask to set the highway obligation ceiling at $45.3 billion, the level the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act authorized and a 5% hike from the enacted 2017 figure. He also would freeze airport construction grants at $3.35 billion.
Waterways Council Inc. CEO Mike Toohey calls the president’s budget for the Army Corps of Engineers civil-works program “dour.” It would mean a 22% cut, to $4.8 billion.
Trump seeks to slash the Environmental Protection Agency budget 34%,the sharpest cut for any agency, including a 28% reduction, to $2.5 billion, in EPA’s water infrastructure program. Drinking water state revolving funds (SRFs) would be flat at $863 million, but clean water SRFs would be chopped 28%, to $997 million.
On the plus side,Trump wants a more than sixfold jump in the General Services Administration construction account, to $1.3 billion. That includes $768 million to buy the Transportation Dept. headquarters building, which is now leased. The Dept. of Veterans Affairs major projects budget would more than double, to $1.1 billion.
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