$50 million in retrofit grants part of Bush’s 2007 budget

President Bush’s federal budget recommendations for 2007 included $50 million in grants to construction contractors who want to retrofit equipment.

As has been the case for the past two years, much of the focus of the budget proposal is on building up military defenses against terrorist threats while restraining expenditure on domestic programs. The $2.7 trillion budget plan calls for the elimination or reduction of 141 programs for a savings of $14.5 billion annually.

In addition to the surprise $50 million in grants for equipment retrofits, good news for contractors included increased funding for highways.

For 2007, the budget provides $39.1 billion to maintain and improve highways and to replace, rehabilitate and preserve bridges and other infrastructure. In 2006, the budget called for $34.7 billion, but a spending plan of $35.6 billion was enacted, said Kelley Keeler, senior director of public affairs for AGC.

“Budgets from every president present a mixed bag,” said Stephen Sandherr, chief executive of the Associated General Contractors of America. “In this instance, the president has demonstrated his commitment to the highway program and to ensuring a healthy construction economy by proposing to make tax cuts permanent.”

On the other hand, AGC is concerned about proposed spending cuts for wastewater and drinking water infrastructure and aviation infrastructure.