By Kristen Hildreth
Encouraged by the recent bipartisan talks between Congress and the White House, NCSL held a virtual briefing for congressional staff on Capitol Hill stressing the importance of infrastructure as a top state budget and policy priority.
Joining NCSL staff were Utah Representative Stephen Handy (R), co-chair of NCSL’s Natural Resources and Infrastructure Committee, and Hawaii Representative Aaron Ling Johanson (D), vice chair of NCSL’s Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce Committee.
Handy highlighted how Utah is examining ways to maintain existing road infrastructure and build highways with less money from gas taxes as cars become more fuel-efficient. He encouraged Congress to increase federal investment in our nation’s transportation system and prioritize a plan that includes formula funding which allows states certainty and predictability of funds, allowing them to fully focus their attention on delivering critical projects that improve safety, quality of life, and economic opportunities for everyone.
Additionally, he highlighted that Congress must reauthorize existing federal programs such as the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund at levels commensurate with state needs, while also touching on how the state has used American Rescue Plan Act funding to aid its water infrastructure.
Johanson highlighted Hawaii’s creative solutions to close the digital divide, leverage federal funding, and provide more accurate mapping for the state.
He also discussed how the pandemic demonstrated the need for further investment in broadband and that states are in the best position to make decisions about deployment affordability and access. He urged Congress to provide flexibility in federal funding to invest in connectivity, including flexibility in used in unserved and underserved areas, mapping, and equipment.
View the briefing.
NCSL stands ready to work with Congress and the administration to ensure these necessary investments in the nation’s core infrastructure.
Kristen Hildreth is a senior policy specialist in NCSL’s State-Federal Relations Program.