One day before the U.S.Senate passed the bipartisan, $1 trillion federal infrastructure bill, Michigan’s two Democratic Senators, Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, outlined how the state would receive funding in a press conference on Monday.
According to the two lawmakers, funding would be split most significantly between highways and bridges, public transit, support for electric vehicles, cleanup of toxic chemicals in Michigan waterways and expanded internet access.
Infrastructure is an important issue in the state and has been a prominent topic in recent elections. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), who took office after winning the 2018 gubernatorial election, ran with the campaign slogan “fix the damn roads,” in reference to Michigan’s ongoing transportation infrastructure issues.
According to Stabenow, the bill would result in a 31% boost in federal funding for the state’s infrastructure.
“I’d have to say I think Michigan’s on just about every page of this bill,” Stabenow said. “So, you know, big picture, roads, bridges. Over the next five years, the bill gives Michigan about a 31% increase in federal funding to rebuild roads and bridges.”
Specifically, $8 billion is allotted over five years for highway and bridge-related projects. According to White House estimates, $7.3 billion will go to federal highway programs and $563 million will be for bridge repair.
The same estimates also project an additional $1 billion will be used to improve public transportation over 5 years. $7.5 billion is allocated to support the building of an electric vehicle charging network, while $100 million is set aside for the expanded access of high speed broadband internet service.
Peters said he hopes this funding will make the state and country more competitive in electric vehicle manufacturing and bring jobs to local communities.
Additionally, another $10 billion will be distributed to aid in the cleanup of toxic chemicals, such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances known as PFAS, a group of ‘forever chemicals’ that have been found in Michigan water sources, including in Ann Arbor.
These chemicals have a variety of negative effects, including thyroid hormone disruption, an increased risk of cancer, altered infant birth weights and increased cholesterol levels
According to Peters, this is the “most money ever put into PFAS remediation.”
$15 billion would be allocated to remove water service lines containing lead and $1 billion in federal funds would be distributed as part of a Great Lakes cleanup program over 5 years. $500 million from a federal loan fund would be used to mitigate effects of natural disasters and rising water levels, such as the effects of the recent floods in Wayne and Washtenaw counties.
Though the state may receive more funding than outlined here — such as support for projects or bridges with economic benefits — it will be in competition with other states for those additional funds.
LSA senior Ryan Fisher, president of the University’s chapter of College Republicans, wrote in an email to The Daily that, though they are worried about the fiscal impact this spending could have, they are happy the bill passed with bipartisan cooperation.
“It is refreshing to see both parties work together on infrastructure, something that Americans can so readily see is broken down at many levels,” Fisher wrote. “(Despite our concerns), this money is being spent primarily on everyday infrastructure items like roads, waterways, power, and rail. There remains some imprudent spending in the bipartisan deal, though perhaps this is obligatory for any government legislation.”
College Democrats at the University of Michigan did not respond to the Daily’s request for comment.
Peters expressed his continued support for the bill, which he believes allocated funding that is overdue.
“It’s exciting that we’re finally addressing infrastructure — basic infrastructure, roads and bridges in this country that have been neglected for far too long,” Peters said.
After the bill was passed on Tuesday by the Senate, Peters reiterated his hope it is finalized into law in a press release.
“This is a great step, and we must keep working to make sure this legislation is signed into law,” Peters said.
In addition to this $1 trillion bill, a $3.5 trillion budget resolution is currently under negotiation and will be discussed in coming weeks, though Republican lawmakers are much less likely to vote in favor of that legislation.
Daily News Editor Emma Ruberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.