The White House today released some additional details about President Trump’s proposal to make $50 billion available for rural infrastructure investment – and in theory, at least, as much as $40 billion of that money could go to rural broadband. Trump rural broadband plans first came to light last week as part of a broader plan to invest $200 billion in infrastructure nationwide. At that time the White House said 25% of those funds would go to rural areas but could be spent on a range of infrastructure types, including roads, bridges, highways, railways and waterways.
Trump Rural Broadband
According to a White House fact sheet released today, 80% of the $50 billion for rural infrastructure, or $40 billion, would go directly to the governor of each state as determined by a formula. Governors would then determine how to allocate funding “based on the individual infrastructure needs of their rural communities,” the fact sheet says.
The fact sheet also notes that “[g]iven the level of discretion granted to states under the President’s Rural Infrastructure Program, governors can spend 100% of the federal funds they receive under the program to broadband.”
The remaining 20%, or $10 billion, of the $50 billion proposed for rural infrastructure would be provided to selected states that apply for rural performance grants. Additional details about those grants were not provided, but perhaps some of that money also could go toward broadband.
“President Trump understands how important expanding broadband access is to ensuring a better quality of life and increasing economic opportunity for rural Americans,” the White House fact sheet states.
Rural broadband was the only infrastructure type to receive its own section in today’s fact sheet – perhaps because a previous fact sheet emphasized other infrastructure types over broadband.
Other types of infrastructure that could receive funding include transportation projects, water and waste projects, power and electric projects and water resources projects to better manage flood risk and improve rural water supplies and waterways, the fact sheet states.
The ultimate goals of the infrastructure projects include growing “business revenues and personal incomes in rural areas by expanding access to markets, customers and employment opportunities” and spurring “economic growth and competitiveness by closing infrastructure gaps to attract more development and manufacturing investments in rural America.”
Other information provided about President Trump’s rural infrastructure proposal included:
- The program will use outcomes-driven planning and capital improvements
- It will enhance regional connectivity for rural communities through interregional and interstate projects developed by the public and private sectors
- It will set aside a portion of the funds for tribal and territorial infrastructure