infrastructure

Read Gov. Bill Lee’s victory speech here

Bill Lee speaks to supporters at his headquarters launch in Franklin on Feb. 12, 2018. (Erik Schelzig/Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee won re-election on Tuesday over Democratic challenger Jason Martin. Here’s some of what Lee had to say to supporters after the Associated Press called the race:

I want to thank you and the people of Tennessee for giving me and Maria, the opportunity to serve again. Thank you.

In a republic, the people decide what happens by choosing leaders whose ideas they like the best. And tonight, and evidently, all across the country, the people have spoken clearly. And we are expecting to win by large margin. And while that feels good, it’s important, because what it means is that our ideas have resonated with people from one end of the state to the other. The people are trusting us to improve the economy. They’re trusting us to fight crime. They’re trusting us to have safe schools and schools that are successful. And we better not disappoint them. And we won’t disappoint them over the next four years.

Before I want to get into all of what I want to say tonight, I will say this: political people cringe when I say this, and when I decided — or was thinking about running a few years ago, the political experts said to me, you know, you can’t win a campaign without running negative ads. And I just have to say that our positive-only campaigns are now 2 and 0. Others will do the same across this country, our country could use it.

Thank you for your vote and for your confidence. And to those who did not vote for me, I want people to know that I take it very seriously the responsibility that I have to be the governor for all of Tennessee. Because we all do want the same thing. I’ve said a hundred times before, people want a good job and a good school for their kid in a safe neighborhood. And I wake up every day thinking about that. We’ve gotten a whole lot done in the last four years. But I decided to run again because I think we have a lot more work to do. And I thank you for giving me the chance.

You know, our economy remains very strong in this state in spite of the headwind, the national headwinds that have made it more difficult for Tennessee businesses and Tennessee families to be successful. But we have the leading economy of all states in America, and we’ve done so with the lowest tax burden on our citizens of any state in America. We’ve expanded our workforce — 75,000 jobs have been added since we came into office. We are at the lowest unemployment rate in our state’s history, we have lowered the number of rural distressed counties from 15 to 10. And we’re not done.

We brought more vocational and technical and agricultural education into our schools and all of these things equate to one thing. And that is more opportunity for all Tennesseans. I’m very proud of the fact that we have made historic investments in our public education system, and we have passed teacher pay raises every year since we’ve been here. I’m also proud of the fact that we have given more school choices for parents who want something a little different for their kid. And I’ll remind you for the next four years —  and remind people all across the state — that those two ideas are not in conflict with each other. We can fund public schools and provide alternative opportunities for children at the same time if we are committed to funding students and not systems.

And as I watched these elections across the country, politicians from all stripes all across this country if they learn one thing from this election, it’s this: You pay a steep political price if you don’t pay attention to parents. And in this state, we have paid attention to parents, and we’ll continue to pay attention to parents going forward.

We’re also going to keep fighting crime, especially violent crime. While many cities in our country and states across this country have debated in the last couple of years whether to even fund their police departments, in Tennessee we’ve made a commitment to law enforcement. Tennessee has invested $100 million in local law enforcement agencies, we have doubled down on officer recruitment and training so that we can really fight crime at its source. And it’s starting to pay off. We have state troopers and patrol officers from all over the country come into this state. Because they understand that we are committed, and that we have their back.

As I think about our priorities over the next four years, I want us to talk about one other thing: We have got to tackle the issue of infrastructure. I hear about this every day, whether it’s at a political event, a campaign event, or at a meeting in my office. Or sitting around your dinner table, I bet you talk about the fact that there is too much congestion, too much traffic, and too many potholes. We are simply not building enough and maintaining enough roads in this state to keep up with the incredible growth that’s happening from one end of the state to the other. And it’s not just a big city problem, it affects everyone. Because investing in solving big city congestion drains funding away from rural communities. This is a problem that we are studying and we’re looking at ideas on how to solve this problem, you’re going to be hearing a lot more about that starting tomorrow even. But I’ll tell you this, we have a very strong budget in this state. And I commit to you that we will diligently work, tirelessly work to figure out a way to invest in our roads and bridges in this state without raising your taxes and without going into debt.

So we won’t continue to talk about what we’re going to do because tonight is really about celebrating. Thank you. Thank you for being here with us to celebrate, it’s about celebrating. It’s about thanking people. First I want to thank my campaign staff. You know who you are. Each one of you. You worked relentlessly over the past months. County captains, field staff, our volunteers. If you wrote a check to this campaign. If you put out a yard sign. If you came here tonight or came to an event. You made it look easy for us to win this campaign. But I know it wasn’t easy. So to all of you who worked so hard on on this campaign, and especially my campaign staff, I want to say thank you.

Blackburn, Hagerty not among 19 GOP senators to approve infrastructure bill

Republican Bill Hagerty speaks to a reporter before casting his early vote in Nashville on Oct. 21, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Nineteen Republicans in the U.S. Senate voted to approve a $1 trillion infrastructure bill on Tuesday. Tennessee Republicans Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood and Bill Hagerty of Nashville were not among them.

If approved by the House, Tennessee would be in line to receive receive $5.8 billion in additional highway funds, plus $302 million for bridge replacement and repairs. The state also would qualify for an estimated $633 million over five years to improve public transportation options.

Hagerty had tried to peel off Republican support by blocking efforts to expedite a final vote, citing a Congressional Budget Office estimate that measure would add $256 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade.

“There’s absolutely no reason for rushing this process and attempting to eliminate scrutiny of the bill, other than the Democrats’ completely artificial, self-imposed and politically-driven timeline,” Hagerty said over the weekend.

Here are the GOP members who joined all 50 Democrats in passing the bill 69-30, according to The New York Times:

  • Roy Blunt of Missouri
  • Richard Burr of North Carolina
  • Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia
  • Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
  • Susan Collins of Maine
  • Kevin Cramer of North Dakota
  • Michael D. Crapo of Idaho
  • Deb Fischer of Nebraska
  • Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
  • Charles E. Grassley of Iowa
  • John Hoeven of North Dakota
  • Mitch McConnell of Kentucky
  • Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
  • Rob Portman of Ohio
  • James Risch of Idaho
  • Mitt Romney of Utah
  • Dan Sullivan of Alaska
  • Thom Tillis of North Carolina
  • Roger Wicker of Mississippi

White House details how much Tennessee would receive from infrastructure bill

President Joe Biden’s administration is detailing how Tennessee would stand to benefit from the $1 trillion infrastructure bill pending in the U.S. Senate.

Here’s the release from the White House:

— Repair and rebuild our roads and bridges with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians. In Tennessee there are 881 bridges and over 270 miles of highway in poor condition. Since 2011, commute times have increased by 7.7% in Tennessee and on average, each driver pays $209 per year in costs due to driving on roads in need of repair. Based on formula funding alone, Tennessee would expect to receive $5.8 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs and $302 million for bridge replacement and repairs under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act over five years. Tennessee can also compete for the $12.5 billion Bridge Investment Program for economically significant bridges and nearly $16 billion of national funding in the bill dedicated for major projects that will deliver substantial economic benefits to communities.

— Improve healthy, sustainable transportation options for millions of Americans. Tennesseans who take public transportation spend an extra 67.9% of their time commuting and non-White households are 5.6 times more likely to commute via public transportation. 21% of transit vehicles are past useful life. Based on formula funding alone, Tennessee would expect to receive $633 million over five years under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to improve public transportation options across the state.

— Build a network of EV chargers to facilitate long-distance travel and provide convenient charging options. The U.S. market share of plug-in electric vehicle (EV) sales is only one-third the size of the Chinese EV market. The President believes that must change. The bill invests $7.5 billion to build out the first-ever national network of EV chargers in the United States and is a critical element in the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan to accelerate the adoption of EVs to address the climate crisis and

— Help connect every American to reliable high-speed internet. 5.9% of Tennesseans live in areas where, under the FCC’s benchmark, there is no broadband infrastructure. Even where infrastructure is available, broadband may be too expensive to be within reach. 17% of Tennessee households do not have an internet subscription. Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Tennessee will receive a minimum allocation of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state, including providing access to the at least 402,000 Tennesseans who currently lack it. And, under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, 2,009,000 or 30% of people in Tennessee will be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit, which will help low-income families afford internet access.

Over the coming days and weeks, we will expect to receive additional data on the impact of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in Tennessee.

White House circulates states’ infrastructure needs, but doesn’t detail how much each would get

The White House is putting out a state-by-state breakdown of infrastructure needs it says would be addressed by Democratic President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion proposal dubbed the American Jobs Plan.

While the cheat sheets list states’ specific deficiencies, they don’t break out how much of the federal money would be directed to each of them under the plan. So take it for what it’s worth.

Republicans are blasting the plan for going well beyond the scope of what is traditionally considered to be infrastructure.

Here’s the full release from the Biden administration:

For decades, infrastructure in Tennessee has suffered from a systemic lack of investment. The need for action is clear:

ROADS AND BRIDGES: In Tennessee there are 881 bridges and over 270 miles of highway in poor condition. Since 2011, commute times have increased by 7.7% in Tennessee and on average, each driver pays $209 per year in costs due to driving on roads in need of repair. The American Jobs Plan will devote more than $600 billion to transform our nations’ transportation infrastructure and make it more resilient, including $115 billion repairing roads and bridges.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Tennesseans who take public transportation spend an extra 67.9% of their time commuting and non-White households are 5.6 times more likely to commute via public transportation. 21% of trains and other transit vehicles are past useful life. The American Jobs Plan will modernize public transit with an $85 billion investment.

RESILIENT INFRASTRUCTURE: From 2010 to 2020, Tennessee has experienced 40 extreme weather events, costing the state up to $20 billion in damages. The President is calling for $50 billion to improve the resiliency of our infrastructure and support communities’ recovery from disaster.

DRINKING WATER: Over the next 20 years, Tennessee’s drinking water infrastructure will require $8.7 billion in additional funding. The American Jobs Plan includes a $111 billion investment to ensure clean, safe drinking water is a right in all communities.

HOUSING: In part due to a lack of available and affordable housing, 396,000 renters in Tennessee are rent burdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on rent. The President proposes investing over $200 billion to increase housing supply and address the affordable housing crisis.

BROADBAND: Nearly 10% of Tennesseans live in areas where, by one definition, there is no broadband infrastructure that provides minimally acceptable speeds. And 46.8% of Tennesseans live in areas where there is only one such provider. Even where infrastructure is available, broadband may be too expensive to be within reach. 17% of Tennessee households do not have an internet subscription. The American Jobs Plan will invest $100 billion to bring universal, reliable, high-speed, and affordable coverage to every family in America.

CAREGIVING: Across the country, hundreds of thousands of older adults and people with disabilities are in need of home and community-based services. The President’s plan will invest $400 billion to help more people access care and improve the quality of caregiving jobs.

CHILD CARE: In Tennessee, there is an estimated $768 million gap in what schools need to do maintenance and make improvements and 48% of residents live in a child care desert. The American Jobs Plan will modernize our nation’s schools and early learning facilities and build new ones in neighborhoods across Tennessee and the country.

MANUFACTURING: Manufacturers account for more than 15% of total output in Tennessee, employing 357,000 workers, or 11.5% of the state’s workforce. The American Jobs Plan will invest $300 billion to retool and revitalize American manufacturers, including providing incentives for manufacturers to invest in innovative energy projects in coal communities.

HOME ENERGY: In Tennessee, an average low-income family spends 8-10% of their income on home energy costs forcing tough choices between paying energy bills and buying food, medicine or other essentials. The American Jobs Plan will upgrade low-income homes to make them more energy efficient through a historic investment in the Weatherization Assistance Program, a new Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator to finance building improvements, and expanded tax credits to support home energy upgrades.

CLEAN ENERGY JOBS: Tennessee has outsized potential for innovative energy technologies including carbon capture and sequestration and geothermal energy generation, that create good paying union jobs. As of 2019, there were 79,626 Tennesseans working in clean energy, and the American Jobs Plan invests in building that industry through a reformed and expended Section 45Q tax credit and extending renewable energy tax credits.

VETERANS HEALTH: Tennessee is home to over 470,000 veterans, 9.4% of who are women and 45% who are over the age of 65. The President is calling for $18 billion to improve the infrastructure of VA health care facilities to ensure the delivery of world-class, state of the art care to veterans enrolled in the VA health care system. This includes improvements to ensure appropriate care for women and older veterans.

State approves $69M in water infrastructure loans for Memphis, Johnson City, and Lebanon

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters following on Dec. 13, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee and  Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner David Salyers announced three cities will received $69 million loans for water improvements through the Tennessee Local Development Authority.

Memphis will receive $48 million under the program, $15 million goes to Johnson City, and $5.7 million heads to Lebanon.

The Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan will address wastewater treatment plant improvements in Memphis and rehabilitation of sewer interceptors in Johnson City and Lebanon.

The state’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program has awarded more than $2 billion in low-interest loans since 1987.

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