Words like “modest,” “small-positive,” and “slightly stronger,” growth are the words economists are using in their lackluster praise for what has been called a, “big win” with the House passage of the $1 trillion public works bill passed late last Friday. This lukewarm reception doesn’t do justice to the hard won fight to get this passed. It doesn’t tell the full story of the positive changes this legislation will bring for working-class families and our Kane County neighbors, close to home.
Funding for roads, bridges, broadband and water systems touch every person. It means funding for low emission electric school buses, longer road trips for skittish soon-to-be owners of electric cars with confidence more electric highway charging stations will be available on that long-awaited trip to California. It also means the $1 trillion will target dollars toward our aging electric grid, crucial to our transportation systems and vulnerable to cyber attacks.
Every dollar over the course of five years in Illinois will go to improve drinking and wastewater, federal highway projects to address the over 6K miles of our highways in need of repair. Internet access, with at least $100 million slated for broadband across our state, will also benefit the 2.9 million low-income Illinoisans who cannot afford the luxury most of us enjoy whether we work from home or turn on our computers to access emails or social media.
Many of us also drive across aging bridges. Here in Illinois an estimated 23K need repair or replacement. Just think about the impact $17 billion from the Biden infrastructure package has on opening up jobs, providing the dignity of work. Recognize the purchasing power that comes from the ability to feed your family and the income to put a roof over every man and woman in need of a job. Some of these will be union jobs with good pay.
There is more specifically targeted for Illinois than outlined here. But whatever your stripe, be you Democrat, Republican, independent or non-voting public, the needs of our state affect us all. Let’s take time to thank all our public servants who get up every day with one thought in mind: how to serve our communities to make our lives just a little bit better.