Mayor Paul Soglin held a press conference Tuesday afternoon in reaction to President Donald Trump’s recently released infrastructure plan, which places a heavier burden on state governments and encourages private investment in public infrastructure.
Soglin said he echoed the thoughts of those in the nation’s Capitol that the plan is likely “dead on arrival.”
Under the $1.5 trillion plan, the federal government would contribute $200 billion in funding for infrastructure projects, with local, state and private funds left to generate the remaining $1.3 trillion, according to a White House press release.
“We are under levy constraints,” Soglin said. “We are under expenditure limitations. We cannot raise additional money to come up with this larger proportion of the pot that they expect us to carry.”
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One of Soglin’s main concerns was the formula the federal government will use to select which infrastructure projects to fund because it encourages entry of private investors in public systems.
Seventy percent of the formula is weighted towards plans funded by non-federal sources, according to the plan.
“The problem with privatization, as we’ve seen in Russia, much of the money is used to line the pockets of the private developers when the programming is supposed to be for the public,” Soglin said. “As we’ve seen where this has taken place already, it is nothing but a major problem.”
Chicago’s privatization of its Skyway toll bridge and entire parking system, as well as the privatization of water in some cities, are examples of privatization harming public services, Soglin said.
When the interests of private investors outweigh the interests of the public, the public loses, Soglin said.
“One, you got to have enough money to pay to get to use the service,” Soglin said. “And secondly, the regulation of the service is based on the needs of the owners, not on the public.”
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The plan would also open major portions of the interstate system to tolling, weaken environmental regulations and divest the federal government of major infrastructure assets, Soglin said.
Soglin criticized Gov. Scott Walker for tacitly approving interstate tolling and Trump’s plan which would increase local funding — two things the governor has been opposed to in the past.
“Scott Walker has become Donald Trump’s favorite sock puppet right now,” Soglin said. “The hypocrisy and betrayal is beyond description.”