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"As part of a mammoth package envisioned by the Trump administration, the nation’s governors would be given $50 billion in block grants to help finance rural projects such as expansion of broadband service, said two senior White House officials. They said the block grant funding would be available on a more rapid basis than the rest of the $200 billion in federal funding that would be provided for improvements nationwide for all types of public works. Overall, the Trump administration projects the federal funds will stimulate $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending. The federal share of 13 percent is expected to attract a flood of state, local and private-sector money, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the White House’s “infrastructure principles.” Their description was more detailed than a fact sheet issued in conjunction with the State of the Union speech but left open many operational questions. One of the White House officials said the rural funds “are advanced” and would be available sooner than the rest of the package but he did not spell out a release schedule nor say how they would be divided among states, all of which have some rural territory. The share of funds earmarked for rural America – one-fourth of the federal share – was suggested by the White House last month. The House and Senate Agriculture committees would share control with a handful of other congressional committee over the package, according to the senior officials. “They’ll have, hopefully, their own lanes,” said one of the officials, but jurisdiction may overlap in some areas. During a briefing, the White House officials said the proposed $200 billion in direct federal spending was in line with the average federal share of public works spending, which they said was 14 percent. They also said the White House budget proposal for fiscal 2019 would offset the cost of the new package...Some state and local officials contend that the administration is providing little impetus for infrastructure improvements and in some areas, would shoulder a smaller share of the burden...Rural infrastructure is one of the four guide points of the package, said the officials. The others are stimulating $1.5 trillion in spending, job training, and speedy action on permits."

Posted February 12th, 2018
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