White House outlines state needs
The White House outlined state-by-state infrastructure challenges Monday, arguing that the entire country would benefit from what it calls the American Jobs Plan.
A document titled “The Need for Action in Arkansas” highlighted possible Natural State priorities.
It didn’t calculate the amount of money that would go to Arkansas if the proposal becomes law.
With a price tag of roughly $2.3 trillion, the plan includes per-capita spending of roughly $7,000 nationwide over an eight-year period.
“For decades, infrastructure in Arkansas has suffered from a systemic lack of investment. The need for action is clear,” the document said.
The state has 663 bridges and more than 6,700 miles of highways that are “in poor condition,” it stated.
The proposal includes $115 billion to repair roads and bridges nationwide, part of the $600 billion earmarked for national transportation infrastructure, it said.
The state will also need $7.4 billion in funding to improve its drinking-water infrastructure, the fact sheet said.
President Joe Biden’s plan includes $111 billion for drinking water, it noted.
Many parts of Arkansas need faster internet access, it said, noting that “27% of Arkansans live in areas where, by one definition, there is no broadband infrastructure that provides minimally acceptable speeds.”
The plan would allocate $100 billion “to bring universal, reliable, high-speed and affordable coverage to every family in America,” the fact sheet stated.
Among other things, the American Jobs Plan includes:
■ $85 billion for public transportation.
■ $50 billion for improving infrastructure “resiliency” and to support disaster recovery.
■ $200 billion “to increase housing supply” and affordable housing.
■ $400 billion to provide and improve care-giving for elderly and disabled Americans.
■ $300 billion “to retool and revitalize American manufacturers.”
■ $18 billion to improve the Veterans Affairs health care system.
■ $137 billion for child care and schools.
In an interview, Democratic Party of Arkansas Chairman Michael John Gray characterized the American Jobs Plan as much needed.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a major national investment in infrastructure,” he said.
“If we’re going to spend our tax dollars, we should spend it on creating jobs for Americans and creating infrastructure improvements across our country, and I think that’s what he’s doing,” he said.
Republican Party of Arkansas spokesman Seth Mays said the American Jobs Plan should be referred to as “a ‘so-called’ infrastructure plan,” noting that only 5% of the funds are dedicated to roads and bridges.
If the proposal becomes law, then future generations will be left holding the bill, he added.
“At some point, somebody has to pay for all these proposals,” he said. “I certainly think the package is too large and probably a nonstarter for the Republican side of the aisle.”