US Senator Edward Markey blasted President Trump’s infrastructure plan, saying it was not adequately funded and unlikely to result in new public works projects in Massachusetts.
“There is a responsibility for our country to fund the needed infrastructure upgrade, and this battle has just begun,” Markey said at an event in Boston.
The White House said the plan, released Monday, “will increase investment, streamline permitting, strengthen rural America, and modernize our workforce.” Trump posted on Twitter that it would be “a big week for Infrastructure.”
“After so stupidly spending $7 trillion in the Middle East, it is now time to start investing in OUR Country!” he wrote.
Trump has previously said he would launch a $1 trillion infrastructure plan, and the administration said the proposal could generate up to $1.5 trillion in spending.
But Markey, echoing some of his fellow Democrats, dismissed the proposal as a “fraud” and “meaningless” because the federal government would only be contributing $200 billion. Half would support an “incentive program” that would award grants for a variety of infrastructure projects, including roads and railways, water supply structures, and pollution cleanup projects.
The White House said the grants would encourage additional funding from cities, states, and the private sector, and applicants would have to prove they’d be able to raise the necessary money. The grants could cover up to 20 percent of a project’s cost, which Markey said was too low to be meaningful. Markey, a member of Senate panels related to the environment and infrastructure, said he is also concerned that part of Trump’s plan to streamline permitting processes could harm the environment.
Geoff Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, said the program would put a burden on cities and towns already struggling to cover infrastructure costs. “If we at the local level had . . . the money that would enable us to pave more roads, we would be doing that now,” said Beckwith.
The plan calls for spending $50 billion on grants for projects in rural communities. Beckwith said Massachusetts would be at a disadvantage competing for those funds.
Stephanie Pollack, the state’s transportation secretary, said Massachusetts officials hope to work with the Trump administration and the state’s congressional delegation as the proposal moves forward.
Republicans in Congress are also reportedly wary of the plan’s cost, since it’s not clear how it would be funded.