U.S. Senate Democrats on Wednesday unveiled their proposal to spend $1 trillion on improving the nation’s infrastructure, including by investing in bridge, sewer and LIRR projects on Long Island, Sen. Chuck Schumer said.
The plan, discussed by Schumer, the Senate minority leader, in an afternoon conference call with reporters, is a counter to President Donald Trump’s own plan to spend $1 trillion over 10 years on infrastructure, largely by relying on local governments to kick in more for projects and partner with private developers.
Because that plan “went over like a lead balloon” with both parties, Schumer (D-N.Y.) expressed optimism in winning support for the Democratic plan, which would largely be funded by rolling back some of Trump’s recent tax breaks for the nation’s highest earners.
“It said to the localities, ‘You pay for it.’ Our localities don’t have the money to pay for it,” Schumer said of the Trump infrastructure plan, which he said would also result in more tolled roads and bridges throughout the country. “There’s a need for a new plan out there. And we are reaching out to our Republican colleagues to try to get something done. We’ve shown we can pay for this.”
Schumer said the Democratic plan would create more than 10 million “good paying jobs” throughout the country, would push heavily to bring broadband access to rural parts of the United States, including upstate, and forward several specific infrastructure proposals throughout the state.
On Long Island, Schumer singled out the reconstruction of the aging Smith Point Bridge in Shirley, sewer system upgrades in Suffolk County, and improvements in both counties’ sewage treatment plan as projects that could be funded in the plan.
Because the plan also sets aside money for transit improvements, “a lot of the upgrades on the Long Island Rail Road would be available” as well, including the completion of the LIRR’s East Side Access link to Grand Central Terminal, Schumer said.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Democratic plan.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said he did not agree with Schumer’s proposal to raise taxes to fund infrastructure, however, the Democrats’ plan was, overall, more palatable than Trump’s, which King said would push local governments to increase property taxes for Long Islanders.
“The federal share should be much larger than what they’re talking about in the administration’s plan. It’s just not enough,” said King, adding that he would be willing to work to win GOP support for a modified Democratic plan that would be funded through spending cuts and, if necessary, an increased deficit. “If we can get stronger infrastructure, if we can get a healthier economy, that’s the most important thing.”
Kevin Law, president and chief executive officer of the Long Island Association, a business group, said the Democratic infrastructure plan would be “a huge shot in the arm” for the country, state and for Long Island, which he said pays $25 billion more annually to the federal government than it gets back.
“It is critical that Long Island receives a fair share of these funds,” Law said.