BOSTON – As Congress continues to work on an infrastructure bill that would send billions of dollars to states, a senior member of the Massachusetts delegation points out challenges at home that federal dollars could help.
US MP Richard Neal, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee of the US House of Representatives, gave a virtual speech on Tuesday morning to the Massachusetts High Technology Council for a robust package that doesn’t just invest in roads and bridges, and announced to council members That Congress Congress is still working to pass the bill.
“The gradual decline in our federal infrastructure investments over the years has resulted in an alarming number of crumbling roads and bridges, inadequate access to broadband, and an undersupply of affordable housing and community-based investments,” said Neal. “Here in Massachusetts we are facing our own infrastructure challenges.”
President Joe Biden announced last week that a bipartisan group of lawmakers agreed a federal infrastructure bill that provides for $ 579 billion in new spending over five years.
The largest expense item in the federal deal is $ 109 billion on roads and bridges, according to the Associated Press. The legislation also provides for $ 66 billion for freight and passenger transportation, $ 49 billion for local public transportation, and $ 25 billion for airports.
The passage of a major spending plan would have a significant impact in Massachusetts, adding to the stream of federal dollars flowing into the state and the excess revenue that the state taxpayers have built up on Beacon Hill.
Neal referred to the American Society of Civil Engineers ‘2021 Infrastructure Report for Massachusetts, which stated that “deteriorating infrastructure is hindering Massachusetts’ ability to compete in an increasingly global marketplace.”
ASCE reports that driving on roads in need of repair costs motorists an average of $ 620 a year in the state, 9 percent of bridges were classified as structurally deficient in 2019, schools faced an investment gap of $ 1.39 billion, and 328 dams “High” hazard potential ”and the state’s drinking water needs are estimated at 12.2 billion US dollars.
Neal said deteriorating bridges and highways in disrepair “affect every aspect of our daily lives” and also advocated preventive measures to curb climate change and future weather emergencies.
“Substantial infrastructure laws will allow us to drive clean energy production by expanding and expanding tax credits for clean energy production, clean energy production, and carbon capture and sequestration,” he said. “We have the opportunity to make smart investments that create good jobs, protect against costly environmental disasters and strengthen our economy.”
Senate lawmakers tabled a $ 300 million local road and bridge repair bill (H 3903) for consideration during a formal session Thursday. The bill provides $ 200 million for road and bridge maintenance, including additional funding for electric vehicles, local transit, and small bridge grants.
The House of Representatives passed the annual bill last week, and lawmakers have to settle some differences before going to Governor Charlie Baker’s desk. House calls for a total of $ 75 million for various grant programs; the Senate proposal increases that to $ 100 million, and the breakdowns for certain grants vary between the two.
Before federal legislators agreed on a federal infrastructure law, they discussed the exact definition of infrastructure and whether things like internet connectivity, electric vehicle systems, and childcare should be included.
Neal said the infrastructure goes beyond roads and bridges.
“Without quality services like childcare and paid family and sick leave, we cannot build an economy that works for everyone. Improving our human infrastructure is vital for the United States to attract workers and remain internationally competitive, ”he said. “We need to reshape the American economy so that it is suitable and sustainable for working parents, especially women and people of color who have disproportionately borne the brunt of this pandemic.”