OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The historic federal infrastructure bill that was passed earlier this month is expected to be signed into law by President Biden at the White House on Monday. So what does it mean for Oklahoma?
“To finally see it cross the finish line is exciting,” said Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt.
The Republican is talking about the newly passed, trillion dollar Federal Infrastructure Bill.
In the measure, Oklahoma is expected to receive more than $5 billion. Most will go toward roads and bridges, but millions will be used for things like electric vehicle charging stations, water and power projects, and rural broadband expansion.
“We will be hiring more people than ever before and doing more for Oklahoma than ever before with commitments like this,” said Bobby Stem, the head of the Association of Oklahoma General Contractors.
Stem says the state has done a great job of improving its bridges, moving from 49th to 7th best in the country.
However, he says there is still more work to be done.
“All of the roads that connect those bridges are deteriorating quickly. These dollars will help make sure that we can put those roads back to work for people,” said Stem.
“There are obviously these great uses that we will make of this infrastructure when it’s complete, but along the way are so many jobs that will be created in the creation of this infrastructure. Those kinds of jobs are hard to get sometimes,” said Holt.
Holt was part of the 400 mayor bipartisan coalition that pushed the bill forward. Holt says he was at the White House back in July to advocate for it.
“It’s had bipartisan support in its development and its passage. It also demonstrated that this country can still work together on something important,” said Holt.
But not all Oklahoma lawmakers agree.
In fact, all five Oklahoma U.S. Representatives voted against it.
Rep. Stephanie Bice said in a statement:
“Yesterday, House Democrats passed what they call an infrastructure bill. Sadly, less than half of the funding in this bill goes toward traditional infrastructure, and it would add $400 billion to the national debt, according to the Congressional Budget Office. This ultimately means more taxes on hardworking Americans. In addition, the bill lacks needed reforms to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the lengthy and costly project review process. Without reforms to NEPA, much needed improvements to our roads, bridges, and highways will continue to be delayed and weighed down in bureaucratic red tape.
I also couldn’t overlook the fact that this bill has been inextricably linked with the Democrats secretive negotiations on the $1.75 trillion tax-and-spend reconciliation package, which I firmly oppose.
While I support funding for our nation’s true infrastructure needs, this bill falls short of what’s best for our nation, and therefore I could not support it.”
But Mayor Holt points out when you break down this bill along with the standard federal spending on roads, 60% of the $1.2 trillion is spent on roads and bridges.
“It’s the kind of core infrastructure investment that we need, especially in America’s cities,” said Holt.
Mayor Holt says some of the money could go toward a commuter rail from Downtown OKC to Edmond, Norman and Tinker AFB and an Amtrak link up with Kansas.