Politics

Pete Buttigieg unveils $1 trillion infrastructure plan

Key Points
  • Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg unveiled $1 trillion infrastructure plan on Friday, pledging to direct federal funds to state and local governments to revitalize the nation's transport networks, clean the water supply and expand broadband internet.
  • "Under my administration, local governments will finally have a partner in Washington," Buttigieg wrote in the plan. "As a former mayor, I know that priority-based budgets made locally are better than budget-based priorities set in Washington."
South Bend, IN Mayor and U.S. presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg speaks to a crowd of over 850 people during his sixth visit to the Monadnock region in Keene, NH on Jan. 2, 2020.
Erin Clark | The Boston Globe | Getty Images

Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg unveiled $1 trillion infrastructure plan on Friday, pledging to direct federal funds to state and local governments to revitalize the nation's transport networks, clean the water supply and expand the broadband internet.

"Under my administration, local governments will finally have a partner in Washington," Buttigieg wrote in the plan. "As a former mayor, I know that priority-based budgets made locally are better than budget-based priorities set in Washington."

Buttigieg was the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, for eight years until his second term expired this month. He is polling in fourth place in national surveys of Democratic voters.

His campaign said the plan will be paid for by reforming the capital gains tax and repealing the 2017 GOP tax overhaul, reforms that had been previously disclosed. The campaign will also raise the estate tax, with a top rate of 65% for billionaires. The plan will create 6 million jobs, the campaign said.

"The bulk of the expense in the plan is already covered in our climate resiliency plan that was previously released," spokeswoman Tess Whittlesey said in an email.

The infrastructure plan includes the following:

  • $100 billion to establish a fund to address lead in water, paint and soil
  • $150 billion to improve public transportation, including $100 billion for states and cities to repair existing systems and expand their rail and bus services, and $12 billion for rural public transit
  • $80 billion to a school repair program, allocating grants and loans to states based on poverty levels
  • $80 billion to expand internet access to unserved and underserved communities
  • $165 billion into the Highway Trust Fund to ensure its solvency through 2029

President Donald Trump has made infrastructure a key priority, though his efforts have failed to gain traction.

A bipartisan infrastructure deal he championed last year fizzled as conservatives balked at the price tag. As a first-time candidate, Trump campaigned on spending $1 trillion over a decade for fixing the nation's aging infrastructure.

Buttigieg wrote in the plan that the Trump administration "has been incapable of keeping its promise to pass major infrastructure legislation, and critical projects around the country are stalled because of it."

"Meanwhile, our roads and bridges crumble, our schools fall into disrepair, water systems poison our children, and our flood protection systems fail as climate change accelerates," he wrote.

VIDEO4:1904:19
How Pete Buttigieg makes his money

John D. Porcari, who served as Deputy Secretary of Transportation under former President Barack Obama, said in an interview that he supported Buttigieg's plan. 

"It provides more flexibility for local solutions. You would not expect Omaha and Atlanta to have the same priorities and needs," Porcari, who provided input to the campaign on the plan, said. 

"It provides that kind of flexibility, but also recognizes that there are some larger national goals, like moving goods and people as efficiently as possible," he said.  

Buttigieg released his latest plan three weeks before the voting contests on Feb. 3 begin with the Iowa caucus, where the 37-year-old Democrat is jockeying for first place with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

Sanders has advocated for the Green New Deal, a sprawling set of environmental and infrastructure reforms that include "upgrading all existing buildings in the United States and building new buildings to achieve maximum energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability."

Buttigieg has also said he supports the Green New Deal, though it is less central to his presidential bid.

Former Vice President Joe Biden released his own infrastructure plan in November, calling for $1.3 trillion in new investment.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has pledged a variety of infrastructure reforms in her plans for rural America and the environment.

Correction: This report was revised to reflect the Buttigieg campaign's revised estimate of $150 billion for public transportation.