By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA
Excluding infrastructure funding from the White House tax overhaul plan would be a “missed opportunity,” according to one Senate Democrat, but it won’t be the last chance to leverage such money into a final package, a Republican colleague countered.
President Donald Trump’s top advisors April 26 issued a one-page outline that calls for reducing seven personal income tax brackets to three rates of 10 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent, while also doubling the standard deduction. The plan would reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, and provide a one-time reduced tax opportunity to incentivize companies to return several trillion dollars of earnings overseas to the United States, a process called “repatriation.”
Former President Barack Obama and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) eyed repatriation as a potential source of infrastructure revenue in 2015 to pay for the FAST Act. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, on Wednesday said that “considerable bipartisan support” remains for the idea, which is why not including it in the new administration’s tax proposal would be a “missed opportunity.”
Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), however, said that leaving infrastructure out of the tax plan at this stage isn’t the end of the story. “I still think those could move on separate tracks,” he told The Hill.
Simultaneously, House Highways & Transit Subcommittee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Ranking Member Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) are continuing to ask their colleagues to sign a letter urging the House Ways & Means Committee to include “a long-term solution to the Highway Trust Fund structural revenue deficit” as part of tax reform legislation.
President Trump has called for investing at least $1 trillion over 10 years in critical infrastructure. His administration has been coy about when it will release details of how it will pay for the investment.
A major tax overhaul offers an important opportunity for a permanent revenue solution for the Highway Trust Fund, which ARTBA believes should be the foundation of any infrastructure package. ARTBA members can help by urging their representatives to sign the Groves-Norton letter and attending the May 16-18 Federal Issues Program and Transportation Construction Coalition Fly-In, and speaking with their elected representatives.