A big issue in 2016 will be plans for spending on the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Many of our country’s roads and bridges need major updates and candidates from both sides of the aisle acknowledge it. As a construction law firm, we are paying close attention to the candidate’s plans to improve these problem areas.

On the Democratic side, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have introduced major plans for improving our nation’s infrastructure. Clinton proposes spending $250 billion over five years to directly support these projects. An additional $25 billion would be put into an infrastructure bank that would be used to support cities and states with local projects. According to her estimates, this will result in an additional $225 billion in construction.

Bernie Sanders proposes spending $1 trillion on infrastructure projects over the same five year period. The spending would break down thusly:

  • A $125 billion National Infrastructure Bank to leverage private capital to finance new projects.
  • $75 billion to upgrade our passenger and freight rail lines.
  • $12.5 billion to improve airports across the country.
  • $17.5 billion to upgrade air traffic control systems.
  • $15 billion to improve inland waterways, coastal harbors and shipping channels.
  • $12 billion each year on high-hazard dams that provide flood control, drinking water, irrigation, hydropower, and recreation across the country; and the flood levees.
  • $6 billion a year so states can improve drinking water systems.
  • $6 billion a year to improve the wastewater plants and stormwater infrastructure.
  • $10 billion a year for power transmission and distribution modernization projects.
  • $5 billion a year to expand high-speed broadband networks in underserved and unserved areas, and to boost speeds and capacity all across the country.

This plan would be paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes and forcing corporations to repatriate funds from tax havens like the Cayman Islands.

On the Republican side, the proposals are less definite but some candidates do agree that infrastructure spending should increase. The official GOP platform is that tax cuts will lead to economic growth, which will lead to greater infrastructure spending. They also propose public-private partnerships that can help grow the economy. They want the federal government to allow states more flexibility in choosing their own projects and reducing environmental regulations which can slow projects. They argue that with more flexibility and less regulation, they can achieve great infrastructure spending without raising taxes.

At Manion Stigger, we hope all candidates take infrastructure spending seriously. These projects are good for the country and are necessary to compete in the global marketplace.