Trump Looks to Saudis to Help Finance Infrastructure Plan

President Trump will take his first trip abroad on Friday to Saudi Arabia, where he hopes to secure a $40 billion investment for his $1 trillion infrastructure plan. At home, Trump's plan was rebuffed by Texas legislators.
May 16, 2017, 9am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Evan El-Amin

A report from Bloomberg News indicates that the Saudi kingdom's sovereign wealth fund, which is expected to grow to $2 trillion, "is set to announce plans to deploy as much as $40 billion into U.S. infrastructure, according to people familiar with the matter."

Keith Laing, formerly the transportation reporter for The Hill, reports for The Detroit News that taxpayers will fund $200 billion of Trump's infrastructure plan. According to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the public funds would "be used to leverage $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over the next 10 years."

The remainder of the money would come from private companies that would enter into partnerships with local and state governments to provide financing that is necessary to complete expensive construction projects in exchange for revenue that would be generated by things such as road tolls or rail fares.

That public-private vision for infrastructure investment is not sitting well in Texas. "Wary of public opposition to new highway tolls, the Texas House voted on May 5 to reject a bill that would have allowed the partnerships, known as P3s, to participate in 18 highway projects costing as much as $30 billion," reports Mark Niquette for Bloomberg Politics.

The defeat leaves the second most-populous U.S. state unable to tap into the partnerships to finance the infrastructure improvements, even as Trump is proposing to expand their use.

Texas would not be the only state not being to take advantage of a Trump infrastructure plan contingent upon P3 deals. "Nationwide, 13 states have yet to adopt legislation authorizing some form of public-private partnership deals, according to Moody’s Investors Service," adds Niquette.

Hat tip to AASHTO Daily Transportation Update.

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Published on Friday, May 12, 2017 in Bloomberg Politics
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