President Trump has proposed financing a rebuilding of America’s infrastructure with private funding, but some rural politicians are worried that will leave their constituents without benefits from the program. The theory is that private investors will only be interested in projects with high volume in urban areas. That could leave little investment left for rural projects. Ted Mann explains at The Wall Street Journal:
Some rural lawmakers have already begun to raise doubts about the few specific infrastructure proposals Mr. Trump has made.
Republicans such as Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas have questioned Mr. Trump’s endorsement of a plan to privatize the air-traffic control system, saying private ownership could give short shrift to small rural airports.
Sen. John Barrasso, (R., Wy.), chairman of the Senate’s environment and public-works committee, has told local media outlets that an infrastructure package shouldn’t require tolls on the lightly traveled highways in his state, the least populous in the country.
Support from Republicans, many who represent rural areas, will be crucial in getting a large infrastructure package through the GOP-led Congress, since many Democrats have said they would oppose efforts to rely on tolls, rather than federal aid, to pay for building projects.
Mr. Trump’s fellow Republicans have expressed concern about his proposals to rely on private investors to fulfill his $1 trillion promise since the administration’s first days. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, (R., W.Va.), quizzed Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao during her confirmation hearing in January about how the administration would apply its plan in rural states, which can lack the traffic necessary to raise funds for investors through tolls and user fees.
Ms. Chao avoided the question. “It’s a huge issue that demands the best thinking of all of us,” she said.
That question looms large now that the administration has said it would intentionally shift more responsibilities to pay for infrastructure to cities and states, in some cases providing incentives to those local governments that are willing to raise fees and tolls on residents to do so.
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