NBC Montana: Tester discusses bipartisan infrastructure package in Flathead

by Vanessa Perez

Sen. Jon Tester visited the Flathead to discuss a $579 billion bipartisan infrastructure package on Friday.

Tester led negotiations with nine senators and President Joe Biden.

The senator was joined by Flathead Valley Community College President Jane Karas, Columbia Falls Councilman Mike Sheppard and JoJe Bar founder and CEO Jess Cerra.

Tester says the bill will help create good jobs by making essential investments to Montana’s roads, broadband, water and more. He says one of the biggest needs is broadband.

Karas said during the pandemic they learned many students did not have access to any type of internet.

Cerra, a small business owner, says she runs into internet problems while trying to work from home in Whitefish.

“This package would just be so important to small business owners like me so I can run my business smoothly and hopefully continue to grow it from Montana, ” she said.

“In the 21st century, we’ve got to make sure that everyone has access to broadband service, and cell service goes with that, but they’re all important, make no mistake about it. The other need that’s really important is where we’re standing here, and that’s a well trained workforce. None of this infrastructure happens unless you have a workforce that makes it happen,” Tester said.

Tester says some of the funding will come from leftover CARES Act money and tax gap income.

The bill is expected to hit the Senate floor on July 19.