The Montana Infrastructure Coalition has been in contact with our Congressional Delegation over the last several weeks to discuss the importance of infrastructure investment not just in the midst of the current COVID-related financial crisis, but as a long-term strategy for economic stability and the general health and well-being of our communities across Montana.
Senator Tester has heard from you, and inherently recognizes the importance of investing in our infrastructure. When asked about his position on various bills making their way through the Washington legislative process, Senator Tester said, “As I travel across Montana, I consistently hear from folks that we need to update our infrastructure. Whether it is improving our roads, bridges, schools or high speed-internet access, Congress is long overdue in passing a responsible infrastructure bill that strengthens businesses and communities across our state. Making these investments is essential to the growth of our economy now and for future generations.”
The Coalition has had the opportunity to participate in video conferencing with Senator Daines a couple of times this past month, and in a call just last week, Executive Director Darryl James asked Senator Daines about the federal role in state and local infrastructure funding. Senator Daines was very clear in stating that Congress needs to resist thinking about infrastructure spending as a novel expenditure. He said, “Infrastructure investment is more appropriately viewed as payment on a debt we already owe to our country. Previous generations built the majority of the infrastructure we enjoy today, and it’s our responsibility to make sure we properly maintain that infrastructure so the next generation isn’t left with a massive infrastructure debt that they can’t build their way out of.”
When asked specifically about his down vote on a House infrastructure funding bill earlier this month, Congressman Gianforte said, “Transportation bills should be bipartisan and focus on our country’s pressing infrastructure needs. Unfortunately, Nancy Pelosi chose to speed down a partisan road toward the Green New Deal. That’s a dead end in Montana, which is why I voted against it. Since the Senate won’t pass Pelosi’s partisan bill, I look forward to working toward a compromise bill that actually addresses Montana’s critical needs.”
Montanans should be pleased that our voices are being heard in Congress, and that our delegates understand and appreciate the need to take infrastructure investment seriously. The injection of Federal monies into local infrastructure right now could translate into immediate employment for Montana’s skilled labor force, an opportunity to chip away at our infrastructure deficit, and securing a safer and healthier place to do business and raise families across our state. Continuing to ignore the need for assistance means that even basic service needs in our local communities continue to go unmet, and that we risk a sluggish and languishing recovery from the current economic crisis.
If you haven’t already done so, please reach out to Senators Tester and Daines, and Congressman Gianforte to thank them for their support, and encourage their continued engagement in the infrastructure funding dialogue on behalf of the great state of Montana.