State policymakers are reportedly responding to the Trump administration's call to submit high-priority infrastructure projects.
But state transportation officials told Bloomberg that they don't want a major infrastructure bill to upend the federal government's traditional role in road and bridge projects — and that they're skeptical about whether any such bill could get sufficient support in Congress in the first place.
“I don’t see any way that, federally, they can define projects for a state,” John Schroer, Tennessee's transportation commissioner, told Bloomberg. “The federal government can’t figure out what a state needs.”
Bloomberg reported that the Trump transition team requested a list of potential projects from the National Governors Association in December and that as of this week, about 40 states responded.
"The feeling was, ‘If we wanted to try to move quickly, what are some of the things that we could do and what’s out there?'" NGA executive director Scott Pattison told the publication.
Trump repeatedly vowed to rebuild the nation's infrastructure both on the campaign trail and following his election, but details about a plan were difficult to find. A Trump adviser circulated a paper shortly after his election outlining an attempt to spur $1 trillion in private infrastructure investment with the help of a massive tax credit.
Critics, however, suggested that public dollars would still be needed for many projects and that any new income taxes from construction workers would fall far short of the amount needed to offset the tax credit.
Some liberals also characterized the proposal as a giveaway to corporate interests, but Democrats in general support an infrastructure spending bill as a way to bolster the economy. Senate Democrats will float their own $1 billion infrastructure planthis week.
Instead, congressional Republicans could be hesitant to embrace a massive spending bill — particularly since the Trump team's solicitation recalls the Obama administration's efforts to fund "shovel-ready" projects in a 2009 economic stimulus bill.
Only a fraction of those dollars ultimately went to transportation projects, and Republicans spent years hammering the administration over the effort.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters last month that he was waiting to see details on an infrastructure bill but hoped to "avoid a trillion-dollar stimulus.”
Schroer, meanwhile, told Bloomberg that he doubted that states would see "a lot of help out of the federal government for a while."