Leaked Document Outlines Infrastructure Plan
The White House has said an infrastructure bill would be a major priority for 2018. The draft document may provide a preliminary view on the plan that includes tribal governments as an eligible entity for the infrastructure plan.
Rural Infrastructure Projects:
The Infrastructure Principles document includes programs designed to encourage investment in rural communities for the priorities of transportation, water, broadband, waste, and power and electric. The majority of the funding would be distributed through block grants, giving states the freedom to decide eligibility. Tribal governments are better positioned to address local infrastructure and economic development needs. It is imperative that Congress invest directly in tribal governments to improve conditions and opportunities.
Private Activity Bonds:
The document amends Internal Revenue Code to allow a broader category of public-purpose infrastructure for private activity bonds. Indian Country has limited options when it comes to public financing due to the “essential governmental function” restriction on the issuance of tax-exempt governmental bonds. Unlike state and local governments housing, utilities, recreational facilities, parking garages and even health care facilities have been treated as “non-essential” under present law. Congress must provide tribal governments the right to access private activity bonds on equal terms as other governments for economic development purposes.
An infrastructure bill will need to garner bipartisan support. The infrastructure bill will need 60 votes, which now means nine Democrats or independents will need to support the bill. NAFOA will provide further analysis as more information becomes available and the magnitude of the infrastructure plan becomes more apparent.