Gov. Pete Ricketts on Monday praised President Donald Trump's emphasis on streamlining the highway construction process after participating in a White House unveiling of the administration's long-awaited infrastructure program.

Those reforms mirror some that already have been implemented at the state level in Nebraska, the governor said in a telephone call shortly after leaving the event.  

They should "speed some things up and save money," Ricketts said.

Nebraska already has moved forward with environmental paperwork associated with construction of the proposed Lincoln South Beltway, he noted.

Ricketts said the Trump program would reward innovation at the state level and provide some block grant funding for rural areas, both good news for Nebraska.

And, the governor said, it provides "some opportunities for public-private partnership."

The president presented what was once a ballyhooed trillion-dollar federal infrastructure plan in a scaled-down $200 billion federally-funded version on a day when it was overshadowed by the administration's budget proposal.

That budget plan includes an estimated $120 billion reduction in federal support for the highway trust fund over a decade, according to some congressional estimates. 

Sen. Deb Fischer said the infrastructure plan empowers states as decision-makers in the process, reduces regulatory barriers and streamlines the permitting process.

"I'm also pleased this plan makes investments in rural America that would strengthen the rural communities, which are the heart and soul of Nebraska," she said.

Sen. Ben Sasse said: "We need to invest in infrastructure, but we have to pay our bills."

Sasse said "infrastructure is important, so important that we have to have an honest plan to pay for this stuff."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSDon.

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Political reporter

Don Walton, a Husker and Yankee fan, is a longtime Journal Star political and government reporter.

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