By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, June 8, 2017, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) was in Washington, DC at the invitation of President Trump (R) to take part in a series of meetings related to the President’s infrastructure plan.
Governor Ivey said in a statement, “I am thankful President Trump asked me to join him in helping identify priorities for his upcoming infrastructure spending plan. I used the opportunity to stress the need to rebuild our roads and bridges and to invest in modern infrastructure such as high-speed internet and telecommunications.”
Governor Ivey said after the meetings, “I am pleased to hear that the administration also understands infrastructure is more than transportation and that it plans for investments in building schools, hospitals and meeting other government service related needs, especially in rural areas.”
Ivey was one of just eight governors invited to the summit and the only female Governor. Also in attendance were numerous administration officials including President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. Thomasville Mayor Sheldon Day was also in attendance.
The White House Infrastructure Summit was hosted by President Trump at the White House. The event was held as part of White House Infrastructure Week. The Trump-Pence Administration called the meeting with administration officials and 30 state and tribal leaders from across the United States to develop policies that strategically utilize federal dollars in targeted ways that incentivize state, local and private sector infrastructure investments.
The attendees participated in working sessions which explored the topics of rural infrastructure, permitting reform and expediting infrastructure, transformative projects, water infrastructure, transportation infrastructure, and energy infrastructure.
Governor Ivey is participating in a roundtable discussion focusing on infrastructure alongside President Trump.
Gov. Ivey concluded, “After today’s meetings, I am confident President Trump will put forward an infrastructure plan that can achieve bi-partisan support and will meet many needs here in Alabama. As we move closer to the realization of the President’s promise to rebuild our country, it is even more evident that Alabama must be ready to do our part in helping fund these projects around our State. I look forward to working with the Alabama House and Senate to ensure we are ready to hit the ground running once the federal infrastructure plan is implemented.”
President Trump has made a big infrastructure spending plan a large part of his first term agenda.
President Trump told the Governors and other participants, “You are the stewards of the vast majority of our nation’s roads and bridges and airports. Yet, for too long, Washington has slowed down your projects and driven up your costs, and driven them up beyond anything even recognizable. Those days are over. We are going to move quickly, we’re going to move very, very intelligently, and we’re going to get the job done, under budget and ahead of schedule — something the government doesn’t hear too much. We are already taking action to dramatically reduce the time it takes to get permits and approvals. If you want to build a highway in the United States, you currently have to obtain approvals, generally speaking, on average, 16. And usually, 10 federal agencies are involved. It’s a process that can take well over 10 years just to get the approvals. We’re not talking about building, we’re talking about just getting the approvals. So we want to streamline that process, and we think we can get it down to a number that’s closer to two years, and maybe even less than that. That would be a big, big difference.”
The President continued, “In addition to reforming our broken permitting system, we want to partner with state and local governments to better meet the needs of our citizens. My budget proposal includes a massive investment in new federal support for infrastructure. These dollars will be matched by significant private, state, and local dollars for maximum efficiency and accountability.”
Trump said, “Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, and” railways gleaming across our very, very beautiful land.”
The Administration had planned on making this week infrastructure week to galvanize both political parties into action to deal with the nation’s infrastructure needs. Instead this week became all about James Comey and what the President did or did not know about allegations that some of his staff may have colluded with the Russian Government to help Trump win the Whitehouse and did the President attempt to hinder the FBI investigation into those allegations.
Meanwhile in Alabama, efforts to raise gas taxes in order to pay for more infrastructure spending was defeated in the last two legislative sessions. Sponsors withdrew their tax increase bills due to bipartisan opposition. The State may not have the resources to come up with matching dollars even if President Trump’s infrastructure plan somehow passes a polarized Congress.