At the 2022 State of the Union, President Biden, highlighting the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which he signed into law last November, touted: “We’re done talking about infrastructure weeks. We’re going to have an infrastructure decade.”
By Richard Lukas and Tom Curtin
Governors have shared infrastructure as an advocacy priority for years, calling for federal investment and leading through State actions. These infrastructure investments were underscored through a majority of Governors’ State of the State addresses. For instance, NGA Economic Recovery and Revitalization Co-Chairs, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, each focused on the wide-ranging benefits of transportation and water resources improvements taking shape at the state level.
In January, Gov. Beshear’s State of the Commonwealth address featured how Kentucky’s 2022 budget “will continue to deliver on our promise of a world-class airport in Paducah. It will continue to invest in infrastructure, with more water and sewer grants. And we will continue to expand the Mountain Parkway to four lanes and construct the I-69 bridge. It will move us ever closer to the announcement – which I hope we can make next year – that we will construct a Brent Spence Companion bridge without tolls.”
Echoing similar themes that month, Gov. McMaster’s State of the State address said that South Carolina’s “rural water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure is becoming old and outdated. Many of these systems have exceeded their useful life, some are barely hanging on.” Gov. McMaster proposed using, “$500 million in federal funds to transform these water, sewer, and stormwater systems in our state’s poorest counties. To upgrade or replace deficient rural water and wastewater systems. And to incentivize large systems to ‘connect’ with smaller and faltering systems.” Equally, the Governor recommended, “Utilizing a combination of $660 million in federal [American Rescue Plan Act] funds and $600 million from surplus revenue . . . to provide no less than $1.26 billion to the Department of Transportation to accelerate construction, expansion, or improvements to our State-owned roads, bridges, highways, and interstates.”
“We’ll build a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations,” President Biden stated, and Governors have committed to working with the Administration to ensure that states and territories thoughtfully and expeditiously deploy the $5 billion in electric vehicle charging resources.
Governors focused on a range of aspects of the transition to low and zero emission vehicles in their 2022 State of the State addresses. Some Governors discussed the importance of expanding electric vehicle charging networks and alternative fuel options in their states and territories. Arkansas Governor and NGA Chair Asa Hutchinson noted that to lead in electric vehicles, the state will “need to have electric charging stations across the state,” and that “this needs to be accelerated.” And Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont emphasized that the state budget provides for hundreds of electric charging stations as it transitions to an all-electric fleet.
In his address, the President promised to “double America’s clean energy production,” and states are leading the way in this transformation. For example, in February, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, Utah Governor Spencer Cox, and Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon announced that they will compete jointly for a portion of the $8 billion allocated in the IIJA for the development of regional clean hydrogen hubs. Signing a Memorandum of Understanding, the Governors believe their states are “uniquely situated to become a clean hydrogen hub given the presence of high-quality wind, solar, biomass, natural gas, and other energy resources.”
Moreover, President Biden referenced the $65 billion in funding for broadband included in the infrastructure package, which is intended to “provide affordable high-speed internet for every American—urban, suburban, rural, and tribal communities.”
Closing the digital divide has been a long-standing priority for the nation’s Governors. Access to high quality, affordable broadband unlocks opportunities to commerce, employment and job training opportunities, remote and improved K-12 and postsecondary education, telehealth, precision agriculture, enhanced utility services and connected infrastructure, and more. Governors are creating new jobs and workforce development opportunities to capitalize on new investments in broadband infrastructure and adoption.