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$1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passes. What’s in it for VT?

The House of Representatives Saturday approved the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Already approved by the Senate, it next goes to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

VTRANS photo

The bill includes $110 billion for infrastructure needs of the nation’s roads and bridges, according to a statement by Sen. Patrick Leahy, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill also provides $66 billion for passenger and freight rail as well as $39.2 billion in public transit funding to address the country’s transit system repair backlog. The Department of Transportation estimates that the backlog includes more than 24,000 buses, 5,000 rail cars, 200 stations, and thousands of miles of track, signals, and power systems.

Based on formula funding, Vermont is expected to receive $1.4 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs and $225 million for bridge replacement and repairs under this package over five years.

Vermont also will receive $83 million over five years to improve public transportation options and $21 million over five years to support the expansion of an Electric Vehicle (EV) charging network. Vermont will have the opportunity to apply for the bill’s $2.5 billion in grant funding dedicated to EV charging.

For broadband, Vermont will receive a minimum allocation of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state. The bill includes $150 million for the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC). Projects in Vermont regularly receive a quarter of the funding allocated to the NBRC. The bill also provides $40 million for water quality projects in the Lake Champlain Basin, through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

This bipartisan infrastructure package also makes significant down payments on climate resiliency initiatives to make the country and Vermont more prepared to tackle the climate crisis. It authorizes an estimated $65 billion investment in clean energy transmission, the single-largest clean energy investment in American history. It also invests $10 billion to address Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), $5 billion for the replacement of existing school buses with zero emission and clean school buses with a priority on low-income, rural and Tribal schools, and $3.5 billion in the Weatherization Assistance Program, reducing energy costs for more than 700,000 with low incomes.

The bill also dedicates $65 billion to building out America’s broadband infrastructure. This funding will go toward grants to states for broadband deployment, making broadband access more affordable for low-income families, expanding eligible private activity bond projects to include broadband infrastructure, and supporting middle-mile deployment. Vermont is expected to receive at least $100 million of the $42.45 billion for grants to states for broadband deployment. This funding will help residents of at least 40,000 Vermont addresses that currently lack access to quality, high-speed internet service. The bill builds on and permanently establishes the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, renaming it the Affordable Connectivity Benefit. This program will provide a $30-per-month voucher for low-income families to use toward any internet service plan of their choosing.

Additionally, the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill includes $3.418 billion through the General Services Administration (GSA) to invest in U.S. Land Port of Entries (LPOEs). This funding will help improve both the facilitation of trade and travel to the United States as well as supporting the deployment of advanced screening equipment to strengthen security. The bill would fund the following LPOE projects in Vermont: Highgate Springs, Alburgh Springs, Beebe Plain, Norton and Richford. The Highgate Springs LPOE, located on Interstate 89, is among the highest volume ports between the United States and Canada.

Now Congress must spend even more on climate change and social spending, Leahy said. “Now our attention can turn to additional legislative work to deliver even more needed resources to our communities and to our families, as well as to address the mounting climate crisis. For too long, we have neglected critical domestic priorities. The time for dallying is over. Let’s get to work,” he said.

Leahy’s statement does not mention any plans to pay for the additional tax burden.

4 replies »

  1. It’s pretty easy to answer the question, “What’s in the spending bill for Vermont?” The answer is 1) Pork, and 2) Massive debt. Our representatives have chosen to spend money we don’t have (and don’t know if we’ll ever have) in order to about what they did for Vermont. I suggest our Senators and Representative send a letter to parents of all newborns for the next generation explaining why they’re being taxed for a bill that was passed before they were born. They may be paying on President Biden’s debt their entire lives.

  2. What do we need EV charging stations for? Electric cars are junk and don’t even work in the winter. And where do you think the electricity is going to come from?