The bipartisan infrastructure bill the U.S. Senate passed last month would be a boon to Mississippi, and we hope our House congressional delegation will unite behind it to benefit the people they represent.
Sen. Roger Wicker, who supported the bill, told the Daily Journal that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would invest billions of dollars in Mississippi. The White House released information detailing what that investment would look like.
Here are a few examples of how Mississippi would benefit from the bill:
- $3.3 billion in federal-aid for highway programs
- $429 million to improve water infrastructure
- $225 million for bridge replacement and repairs
- $223 million for public transportation improvements
- $100 million to provide broadband coverage
- $99 million for airport improvements
- $51 million for expansion of an electric vehicle charging network
- $19 million to protect against wildfires
- $16 million to protect against cyberattacks
All totaled, Mississippi would receive up to $4.46 billion over five years for various projects.
Take roads and bridges, for example. Mississippi has nearly 1,400 bridges and nearly 6,000 miles of roadways in need of repair. While the state has passed some measures to help address needed improvements, much more is needed. Plus — as Wicker points out — the state could pass along some of these federal dollars to fund county projects, something current state funding is not adequately addressing.
Water and sewer infrastructure across the state also faces many challenges, particularly in rural water associations. Funding for major improvements has been hard to find for these associations, and this bill would help address that.
Mississippi has experienced great success in the area of broadband expansion, particularly among local electric co-ops or where energy companies have existing dark fiber lines that are now able to be converted for consumer internet use. However, extending broadband into other areas — including cities like Tupelo — remains more costly. These federal funds would allow other providers to benefit from the same assistance as rural co-ops and energy companies, thus expanding access to more consumers.
Mississippi is in great need of infrastructure investment, and the Senate bill is responsible and targeted in its approach, eschewing items that are outside the sphere of traditional infrastructure projects.
While the bill totals approximately $1 trillion, that is somewhat misleading. As Wicker points out, the bill includes $500 billion of what Congress normally spends on infrastructure spending, meaning additional spending is about $550 billion — far less than the more than $1 trillion in new spending that was originally proposed.
The House has already paved the way for this bill to be voted on by late September. We would encourage Mississippi’s entire congressional House delegation to support this bill and to resist the urge to play politics with it in other budget negotiations.