White House docs outline infrastructure spending for NY, NJ

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WASHINGTON — A new set of documents from the Biden administration outline the ways in which the new infrastructure bill — the American Jobs Plan (AJP) — is needed for improvements in New York and New Jersey.

President Joe Biden wants Congress to know he’s sincere about cutting a deal on infrastructure, though the White House’s plan seems to cost far more than what Republicans are willing to spend.

Biden met Monday afternoon with a bipartisan group of lawmakers and tried to assure them that the Oval Office gathering was not “window dressing.” One of the core disputes is what counts as infrastructure in his $2.3 trillion proposal that would also raise corporate taxes.

“I’m prepared to negotiate as to the extent of my infrastructure project, as well as how we pay for it,” Biden said. “It’s going to get down to what we call ‘infrastructure.’”

The meeting came as the White House released those state-by-state breakdowns Monday that show the dire shape of roads, bridges, the power grid and housing affordability, among other issues. Biden’s team is making a direct argument for lawmakers to put their constituents ahead of their ideologies.

While the “fact sheets” don’t say how much funding would be committed to specific states, it does break down the local needs and total spending on each subject the bill considers infrastructure.

Here’s a look at what those fact sheets said about New York and New Jersey:

New York

The Biden administration gave the state a C- on its Infrastructure Report Card.

The state has 1,702 bridges and more than 7,292 miles of highway in poor condition, and in the past 10 years, commute times have increased by 7.4%, the administration said, adding that drivers pay about $625 annually on repairs caused by poor road conditions.

  • The AJP calls for $600 billion on transportation investment, with $115 billion for roads and bridges.

Public transportation is a key piece of New York City infrastructure, with the Biden camp asserting that 11% of trains and transit vehicles are past their useful life. Plus, New Yorkers taking public transit have commutes more than 50% as long, and non-White households are more likely to use public transportation.

  • $85 billion will go toward public transit nationwide.

Extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy and others have caused up to $100 billion in damages across the state.

  • $50 billion will be used to improved the resiliency of infrastructure and support communities recovering from disaster.

Drinking water infrastructure in the state will require nearly $23 billion in new funding, the Biden administration said.

  • $111 billion from the AJP is earmarked to ensure clean, safe drinking water in all communities.

The Biden team says 1.7 million renters in New York are rent burdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on rent.

  • More than $200 billion from the AJP would be used to increase the housing supply and address the affordable housing crisis.

Nearly a third of New Yorkers live in areas where there is only one broadband internet
provider offering only minimally acceptable speeds, the White House said. Even where it’s available, it may be too expensive, they said, adding that 13% of New York households do not have an internet service.

  • $100 billion from the AJP will be used to bring universal, reliable, high-speed and affordable internet to American families.

Other areas covered in the infrastructure bill include funding for caregiving for older or disabled New Yorkers, child care, manufacturing, home energy, clean energy jobs and veterans health; some of these areas are likely to cause friction with Republicans who don’t view infrastructure as such a broad topic.

New Jersey

The Biden administration gave the state a D+ on its Infrastructure Report Card.

The state has 502 bridges and nearly 4,000 miles of highway in poor condition, the federal government said. Commute times have increased nearly 9% since 2011 and vehicle repair costs passed onto drivers are at $713 annually.

  • The AJP calls for $600 billion on transportation investment, with $115 billion for roads and bridges.

New Jersey residents who take public transportation spend an extra 82.7% of their time commuting, the administration said, and 22% of trains and vehicles are past their useful life. Plus, non-White households are twice as likely to commute via public transportation.

  • $85 billion will go toward public transit nationwide.

Over the last 10 years, 23 extreme weather events have cost the state $50 billion in damages.

  • $50 billion will be used to improved the resiliency of infrastructure and support communities recovering from disaster.

According to the White House, over the next 20 years, New Jersey’s drinking water infrastructure will require $8.6 billion in additional funding.

  • $111 billion from the AJP is earmarked to ensure clean, safe drinking water in all communities.

Affordable housing is a key piece of the AJP: the Biden team said 580,000 renters in New Jersey are rent burdened.

  • More than $200 billion from the AJP would be used to increase the housing supply and address the affordable housing crisis.

Nearly a third of New Jersey residents live in areas where there is only one broadband provider offering minimally acceptable services, and 10% of New Jerseyans are without internet.

  • $100 billion from the AJP will be used to bring universal, reliable, high-speed and affordable internet to American families.

Other areas covered in the infrastructure bill include funding for caregiving for older or disabled people, child care, manufacturing, home energy, clean energy jobs and veterans health; some of these areas are likely to cause friction with Republicans who don’t view infrastructure as such a broad topic.

The figures in the state summaries paint a decidedly bleak outlook for the world’s largest economy after years of repairs being deferred and delayed. They suggest that too much infrastructure is unsafe for vehicles at any speed, while highlighting the costs of extreme weather events that have become more frequent with climate change as well as dead spots for broadband and a dearth of child care options.

Among the four Republicans on the White House guest list Monday were Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Reps. Garret Graves of Louisiana and Don Young of Alaska. Democrats on the list were Sens. Maria Cantwell of Washington and Alex Padilla of California and Reps. Donald Payne Jr. of New Jersey and David Price of North Carolina.

The administration is banking that the data — drawn from an array of private and public sources — will confirm the everyday experiences of Americans as they bump over potholes, get trapped in traffic jams and wait for buses that almost never correspond to published schedules. There is already a receptive audience to the sales pitch, and the strategy is that public support can overcome any congressional misgivings.

“We don’t have a lot of work to do to persuade the American people that U.S. infrastructure needs major improvement,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on Fox News Channel’s “Fox News Sunday” ahead of the reports’ release. “The American people already know it.”

Republican lawmakers have been quick to reject the infrastructure proposal from Biden. They say just a fraction of the spending goes to traditional infrastructure, as $400 billion would expand Medicaid support for caregivers and substantial portions would fund electric vehicle charging stations and address the racial injustice of highways that were built in ways that destroyed Black neighborhoods.

The reports give some data to back up their argument that more money should be spent on roads and bridges. Biden’s plan would modernize 20,000 miles (32,187 kilometers) worth of roadways, but California by itself has 14,220 miles (22,885 kilometers) of highway in poor condition.

Republican lawmakers also object to funding the package by increasing the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% and increasing the global minimum tax, among other tax changes including stepped-up IRS enforcement being proposed by the Biden administration.

“This is a massive social welfare spending program combined with a massive tax increase on small-business job creators,” Wicker said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “I can’t think of a worse thing to do.”

Yet the state-by-state reports make clear that many of the people Wicker represents could benefit from the package, an aspect of the Biden effort to engender the backing of voters across party lines.

Mississippi needs $4.8 billion for drinking water and $289 million for schools. Nearly a quarter of households lack an internet subscription, and a similar percentage lives in areas without broadband. Mississippians who use public transportation have to devote an extra 87.7% of their time to commuting.

Mississippi’s infrastructure received a grade of D-plus.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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