Billings Gazette: Guest opinion: New Infrastructure law is great news for Montana
By: Senator Jon Tester
As a farmer, I know firsthand that good things take time.
Every year, I plant my fields with crops like wheat, barley, peas, and saffron, and in July, August, and September, I harvest those crops and reap what I've sown.
Writing laws is much the same - and this fall, after a long spring and summer of working with Republicans and Democrats, Montana is set to reap urgently needed upgrades to our crumbling infrastructure and strong economic growth across our state, thanks to my bipartisan infrastructure bill that was just signed into law by the president. This package will invest in roads, bridges, water systems, and high-speed internet; create good-paying jobs; and allow us to compete with China.
For too long, we've lived off the infrastructure of our parents and our grandparents. The need to rebuild our country's infrastructure is obvious, but like many priorities it's been kicked down the road, ignored at worst and backfilled instead with patchwork fixes and deferred maintenance at best.
This time was different. Finally, we had 10 folks in the Senate, from both sides of the aisle, that wanted to get things done, and we negotiated this historic bill that will deliver generational investments in our state, lower costs for working families, and support Montana small businesses.
Montana will receive almost $3 billion to invest in better roads that will make commerce and travel more efficient and bigger, safer bridges that will cut down on traffic and improve safety.
This package invests hundreds of millions of dollars in refurbished and rehabilitated water systems for Montana's frontier communities that will make sure all of us have access to safe, clean drinking water, and will help us better conserve our most important resource as we navigate erratic weather patterns. I also made sure the legislation includes up to $100 million for the Milk River Project, so producers here on Montana's northern tier will have the water and certainty they need to grow the food that feeds the world.
And, thanks to this bipartisan deal, virtually every household, school, and business in Montana will soon be connected to quality, affordable high-speed internet, a non-negotiable necessity in rural America in the 21st century whether you're growing your business, accessing distance learning, or receiving telehealth services.
This law invests in our state from the ground up, and give families and communities tremendous opportunity to grow. It will give our economy a major boost, creating good-paying jobs while connecting businesses from Troy to Glendive and increasing opportunity for everyone.
It is projected to create more than 800,000 American jobs, and all iron, steel, and construction materials used for these infrastructure projects must be made in America.
Perhaps most importantly, this legislation will deliver all that without raising taxes on Montana families.
Now, I'm going to be working hard to provide strict oversight to ensure these targeted investments are making it to the folks on the ground quickly and responsibly. These resources are urgently needed in rural America, and I will hold Washington accountable so that Montana isn't left behind.
Montanans have always expected their elected leaders to work across the aisle to deliver real, lasting results for our state, our economy, and our nation, and that is exactly what this bill accomplishes.
I am proud to have worked hand-in-hand with Republicans, Democrats, and the White House to get this landmark legislation signed into law, and I am excited for the benefits it will provide to the Treasure State in the years and decades to come.