As infrastructure funds begin to flow from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, and funds continue to be allocated from state and territorial legislation, Governors are overseeing the delivery of myriad infrastructure projects and upgrades across their states, commonwealths and territories. In their 2023 State of the State addresses, Governors celebrated current infrastructure investments and highlighted future infrastructure plans to support their communities and economies.
Record Investment in Transportation Projects
Many Governors highlighted critical investments in and improvements to transportation infrastructure in their 2023 State of the States.
In Kentucky, Governor and Co-Chair of NGA’s Economic Development and Revitalization Task Force Andy Beshear emphasized record investment in the Commonwealth’s roadways, noting that “in many ways, we are in our Eisenhower moment, investing more in infrastructure than ever before.” He discussed several major wins in road and bridge investment, including the I-69 corridor, Kentucky Highway 30, the Mountain Parkway Expansion and the award of $1.6 billion in funding from the IIJA to build the Brent Spence Companion Bridge. He said that many of the projects have been talked about for decades, and in reference to the Brent Spence Bridge said, “now, we are getting the job done”.
In his State of the State address, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice also celebrated his state’s investment in roads and highways. He said that in 2022 the state completed 115,745 miles of road work, with a total of 364,500 miles of work completed over the last three years combined. Governor Justice noted that not too long ago the roads across the state were in poor condition, but that recently, major project developments have progressed or have been completed, including the Nitro World War One Memorial Bridge, the Beckley Bluestone Travel Plazas, the Wheeling Bridges and the Coalfield Expressway. Governor Justice emphasized that West Virginia will be “taking full advantage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and there will be billions of dollars flowing into West Virginia.”
NGA Chair New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy focused on the state’s modernization of transit and railroad infrastructure in his State of the State address. Governor Murphy noted that the state recently broke ground on the new Portal North Bridge along the NE Rail Corridor and that numerous projects along NJ Transit’s rail lines are moving forward. He also highlighted progress on new rail tunnels under the Hudson River and that the state recently received $292 million federal grant for the project, “the first of what we anticipate to be many awards to get this project done.”
In South Carolina, Governor and Co-Chair of NGA’s Economic Development and Revitalization Task Force Henry McMaster underlined that 2022 was the most successful year for economic growth in the state’s history. This was driven in part by significant investment in electric vehicle manufacturing in the state, including a $3.5 billion investment by Redwood Materials in a new battery materials recycling facility – the single largest announcement in the history of South Carolina – and an investment of $1.7 billion by BMW in electric vehicle production and battery assembly. Governor McMaster noted, however, that “our successes are outrunning our infrastructure[,]” adding that “we must invest more.” The Governor emphasized that in 2022, the South Carolina Department of Transportation received almost $1 billion to accelerate and jump start investment in roads, bridges, highways and to widen interstates, and that the 2023 Executive Budget “provides an additional $850 million to continue speeding up the completion of projects which will relieve traffic congestion on interstates and highways, repair or repave local roads and fix over 400 bridges across the state.” (See further details on NGA’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Summit held in South Carolina in October 2022 here).
Governors Double Down on Broadband Deployment
In addition to highlighting major investments in transportation projects, many Governors discussed their successes in broadband infrastructure deployment and placed a spotlight on the work ahead.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson highlighted the investments his administration has made in broadband expansion, saying “thanks to our efforts, nearly 70,000 under-served homes and businesses across our state now have broadband.” The Governor then outlined his plans for future investments, proclaiming that his administration will be “investing an additional $250 million dollars to do even more [ … ] we are not done until every home, every school, every business, and every farm has access to quality internet.”
Underscoring the importance of broadband access for ensuring socioeconomic opportunities, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte said the “lack of access to reliable broadband limits Montanans’ access to educational opportunities, health care, and career opportunities.” The Governor referenced his administration’s historic investments in fiber, saying “that’s why we made the largest-ever investment in broadband infrastructure – which will bring reliable broadband to 62,000 Montana homes that don’t have it now.”
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers referenced the role of broadband investments in growing and enhancing the state’s economy, saying his administration is “preparing our state, our workforce, and our economy for this century.” The Governor detailed the investments his administration has made in expanding broadband access, saying “we’ve allocated more than $340 million into expanding high-speed internet [ … ] more than 387,000 homes and businesses will have new or improved access to reliable, high-speed internet.”
Focusing on the task ahead, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico discussed the need for broadband expansion to support bringing jobs, opportunities and people to the state. She called for “$146 million in statewide broadband expansion [ … ] so [New Mexico] can attract even more businesses to communities in every corner of [New Mexico] and redouble our investments in critical workforce development and job training programs.”
Governors Highlight New Approaches to Leverage Federal Funds
In addition to discussing specific infrastructure projects or programs, Governors emphasized innovations to compete for and make the most of record federal funding dollars in their jurisdictions.
In her first State of the State address, Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey noted in reference to IIJA funding that “we are competing with every state for those dollars,” stating that she is forming an interagency task force to compete for federal infrastructure money. “We want to win every available dollar for shovel-ready projects across the state,” Governor Healey said.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer reflected on the establishment of the Michigan Infrastructure Office last year to invest federal funds as efficiently as possible. She noted that “this year, it will redouble its efforts, helping to build up every kind of infrastructure – roads, high-speed internet, clean energy, and lead-free pipes.”
To unlock federal infrastructure dollars, Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen advised that “my budget includes $100 million dollars to leverage an additional $400 in federal funds to improve our bridges and roads.” He also spoke of the creation of the Nebraska Broadband Office, whose sole focus will be to “get broadband across Nebraska completed.”
In addition, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee noted in his State of the State Address that it was time to invest in a transportation strategy for one of the fastest growing states in the country. “There’s a $26 billion backlog of projects across the state,” he said, noting that there is a need to change the way we fund and build our roads and bridges. He emphasized the introduction of the “Transportation Modernization Act – to engage public-private partnerships to build additional choice lanes on urban highways, to ensure electric vehicles pay their share in maintaining our roads and to provide a delivery model that builds rural and urban projects faster.” On March 30, , the Transportation Modernization Act passed the legislature with bipartisan support and is headed to Governor Lee’s desk to be signed into law.
To support Governors as they pursue historic infrastructure investments and set states on the path to sustainable infrastructure funding, NGA has developed a set of resources and convenes networks of Governors’ advisors to understand federal opportunities and to share best practices.
NGA maintains implementation resources pages for the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act which can be accessed here. These resource pages are updated weekly to provide the latest federal updates, including notices of funding opportunities, requests for information and guidelines, and the latest NGA, Association, and NGA Partner resources.
This article was developed by Glenn Grimshaw and Evan Blankenberger, NGA Center for Best Practices. For more information on Governors’ infrastructure work please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.