From lack of broadband internet access to billions of dollars in damage to infrastructure due to extreme weather events over the past decade, Missouri’s infrastructure has “suffered from a systemic lack of investment,” according to a new White House report.
The report, highlighting how Missouri would benefit from the Biden administration’s proposed $2.7 trillion American Jobs Plan, gave the state a C- grade when it comes to infrastructure. It pointed to roads and bridges, child care, energy jobs, manufacturing, clean water, and housing as some of the areas that the federal plan would help. The plan is touted not only as an investment into infrastructure needs but also as a tool to create jobs.
A spokesperson for Gov. Mike Parson said the Republican chief executive has had conversations with the Biden administration about infrastructure, noting it’s one of his two top priorities as governor.
“Funding and flexibility [are] what’s needed to continue to drive these priorities,” Kelli Jones, Parson’s communications director, said.
Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz said the plan would only spend 5 percent of the $2.7 trillion pricetag would go toward roads and bridges.
“President Biden should spend less time sending out grade cards and more time concerned about the grade card he’ll receive from Missouri voters if he continues to push Missourians to adopt his liberal agenda and progressive wish list that saddles our grandchildren with trillions of dollars of added national debt disguised as ‘infrastructure,'” Schatz said. “There’s no question Missouri should take steps to address infrastructure needs and President Biden clearly needs to learn the definition of infrastructure.”
“This bold infrastructure plan will make huge investments in rural Missouri by repairing roads and bridges, expanding broadband access, and preparing communities for extreme weather events like floods and tornadoes,” Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo said. “I think rural Missourians will find a lot to like in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan.”
Here’s a look at how the White House said the plan would impact Missouri.
Missouri spent $20 million on damages to infrastructure caused by extreme weather events between 2010-2020, according to the White House. From flooding to climate change, the American Jobs Plan identified 22 extreme weather events across the country last year that totaled nearly $100 billion. The plan includes $50 billion for resilient infrastructure needs.
In Missouri, commute times have increased by nearly 6 percent because of road and bridge conditions — an issue consistently at the forefront of the Missouri Legislature. Additionally, people who utilize public transit spend nearly an extra 80 percent of their time community with 32 percent of trains and other transit vehicles “past useful life,” according to the White House.
Kimberly Cella, executive director of the Missouri Public Transit Association, praised the plan, including the inclusion of clean fuel vehicles, as a “significant step in the right direction.”
“The problem in Missouri will be the local match required to draw down federal funds,” Cella told The Missouri Times. “Without an increase in transit investment from the state, many Missouri transit providers will fall short. Right now, the state invests a little more than $1.7 million, which is split among all 34 transit providers in the state. It is not enough. An increase in the state investment is critical for many reasons, including the ability to tap into millions in federal funds that may be available through the proposed infrastructure plan.”
The White House’s proposal includes $85 billion to modernize public transit and more than $600 billion for transportation infrastructure across the country. The plan also includes $174 billion for investment in electric vehicles and $25 billion for airport improvements.
Half of Missourians live in places with only one internet provider that can provide broadband access. But about 18 percent live in areas without broadband infrastructure, according to the White House. Additionally, 15 percent of Missourians do not have an internet subscription.
The proposal includes $100 billion for broadband across the country.
Water and energy
The average lower-income family in Missouri spends about 10-12 percent of their income on home energy costs, the administration’s report said. Biden’s plan includes making low-income homes more energy efficient through financing a building improvements program and expanding tax credits.
The American Jobs Plan also promised to create additional union clean energy jobs. It’s earmarked about $400 billion for clean energy tax credits, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
Additionally, Missouri needs about $8.9 billion in additional funding to keep up with its drinking water infrastructure, according to the White House. The plan includes an overall $111 billion investment for clean water and the elimination of all lead pipes and service lines.
Health and child care
Biden included veterans’ health care in the American Jobs Plan — specifically $18 billion to improve VA health facilities. Nearly 50 percent of the more than 442,000 veterans in Missouri are older than 65 years old, the administration said.
It also includes a plan to modernize schools and early learning places; there is a nearly $700 million gamp in improvement and maintenance needs for Missouri schools, the White House said.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at email@example.com.