The administration's fiscal year 2003 budget poses a grave threat to the highway construction industry and to infrastructure improvements across the country, the nation's leading construction trade association has warned. The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) pointed out that the budget calls for a 28 percent drop in highway funding, a $275 million cut in funding for the Army Corps of Engineers construction program and a more than 50 percent cut in federal prison funding. AGC has long advocated for a national commitment to infrastructure investment; however, the administration's budget calls for a significant drop in several vital national construction programs.
'This budget compromises several U. S. construction programs and threatens to sacrifice jobs in the industry. At a time when infrastructure spending is needed most, the Budget is a double-edged sword for AGC member firms and the construction industry as a whole,' said Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer of AGC. 'On the positive side, the budget does renew the President Bush's call for an economic stimulus package, energy independence and permanent tax relief.'
'In these uncertain times, permanent tax relief and energy independence will bolster the economy, but a lack of commitment to national infrastructure investment may have a detrimental impact on long term economic growth,' Sandherr said. 'In January, the construction industry lost 54,0000 jobs, according to Friday's report from the Labor Department. Cutting infrastructure investment will worsen this situation and risk weakening the recovery that is barely under way.'
Sandherr said, 'AGC will work with Congress to reverse the cuts and make a national commitment to ensuring economic growth for the next generation by investing in the infrastructure that provides a foundation for our economy. We will continue to work with the president to make the tax cuts passed into law last year permanent, create jobs and protect our country.'