- President Donald Trump announced additional details of his $1 trillion infrastructure plan on Friday, focusing on streamlining the regulatory and permitting processes, according to Reuters.
- Trump aims to significantly reduce permitting time through the creation of two councils, one that will help project managers navigate project bureaucracy and another that will help streamline the federal review process.
- Other elements of Trump's plan include a workforce training program that will aim to create 1 million apprentices in two years, $25 billion for rural infrastructure, $15 billion for "transformative" projects and $100 billion for local infrastructure needs.
In Trump's 2018 budget request, it seemed that local projects could be left out in the cold as far as funding, as the president emphasized that projects with a national impact would be first in line. With rural and local funding, it appears that he has softened his approach to the needs of cities and areas of the country that don't normally see investment interest.
Brian Turmail, senior executive director of public affairs for the Associated General Contractors of America, praised the president's goal of reducing the time a project spends in regulatory limbo. "Transportation officials should be able to get a 'yes' or 'no' on a project quickly, so they can either begin work or move on," Turmail said in an email Friday. "We fully support the President’s initiative and stand ready to assist."
One aspect of the program that is sure to strike a positive chord with construction industry groups is that of workforce training. The AGC has been requesting more support from federal, state and local governments in order to beef up the construction industry employment pipeline to make up for a shortage of skilled workers.
However, the goal of 1 million apprenticeships came as a surprise, as Trump's budget would make cuts to some of the programs that are helping to grow the skilled labor force. An AGC analysis of the budget request found that the Department of Labor’s budget would see a 20% cut, a reduction that includes job training funding. Money for state grants for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act would see a 40% reduction, and funding for apprenticeship grants would be knocked back 5%. The budget also suggested a 15% cut for career and technical education programs under the Department of Education.