Originally written by: Wasatch Front Regional Council

On June 24, President Biden endorsed the infrastructure framework proposal from a bipartisan group of 20 Senators (including Utah Senator Mitt Romney), after reaching a deal on Wednesday evening. The agreed-upon framework would spend $1.2 trillion over eight years, including $579 billion in new spending above baseline levels over eight years for transportation, water, broadband, and power. If signed into law, it would represent the largest infrastructure investment in American history. Here is the White House Fact Sheet about the bipartisan infrastructure framework, and here is the two-page summary released by the bipartisan group of senators. 

The proposal includes a proposed set of pay-fors for the agreement, that do not include raising taxes. An increase in corporate tax rates was a non-starter for the bipartisan group, and other methods like indexing the gas tax or putting a tax on electric vehicles was a non-starter for the Administration. 

Overall, this is a huge step forward towards bipartisan agreement on significant, multi-year infrastructure investment, but there remains a long road ahead. The President and Congressional Democratic leadership are insisting that this infrastructure package be accompanied by another package for broader spending through the partisan reconciliation process. Many details remain to be addressed on the funding and financing elements. And the details of the underlying transportation reauthorization law need to be resolved. 

As the fastest growing state in the nation over the past decade, and more growth to come, investment in infrastructure is critical to Utah’s future. You can find Senator Romney’s statement here.   

Proposed new spending in the framework:

Transportation: $312 billion

  • Roads, bridges, and major projects: $109 billion 
  • Safety: $11 billion
  • Public transit: $49 billion
  • Passenger and freight rail: $66 billion
  • Electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure: $7.5 billion
  • Electric buses/transit: $7.5 billion
  • Reconnecting Communities: $1 billion
  • Airports: $25 billion
  • Ports and Waterways: $16 billion
  • Infrastructure Financing: $20 billion

Other Infrastructure: $266 billion

  • Water infrastructure: $55 billion
  • Broadband infrastructure: $65 billion
  • Environmental remediation: $21 billion
  • Power infrastructure, incl. grid authority: $73 billion
  • Western water storage: $5 billion
  • Resilience: $47 billion

Proposed Funding and Financing Sources for New Spending

  • Reduce the IRS tax gap
  • Unemployment insurance program integrity
  • Redirect unused unemployment insurance relief funds
  • Repurpose unused relief funds from the 2020 emergency relief legislation
  • State and local investment in broadband infrastructure
  • Allow states to sell or purchase unused toll credits for infrastructure
  • Extend expiring customs user fees
  • Reinstate Superfund fees for chemicals
  • 5G spectrum auction proceeds
  • Extend mandatory sequester
  • Strategic petroleum reserve sale
  • Public-private partnerships, private activity bonds, direct pay bonds and asset recycling for infrastructure investment
  • Macroeconomic impact of infrastructure investment

The Path Forward: What does this mean for Utah? 

There are many details that still have to be worked through on this overall infrastructure package and transportation reauthorization law. However, at this point, there are a few things that seem likely:

  • The federal funding will be an increase over what has been provided in past years.
  • The funds will be distributed over a multi-year period, 5-8 years, not in an upfront lump sum.
  • Much of the funding — perhaps particularly the transportation funding — is likely to be distributed through existing transportation formula programs and processes. Senator Romney noted that this ensures that Utah will get its “fair share” of the funding.
  • Utah is well-poised to put these funds to work, based in part on our extensive and collaborative planning and prioritization processes. Utah was the fastest-growing state in the nation over the past ten years, and that growth continues. With regard to additional funding, Governor Cox said that “Utah will need all of it and more to stay ahead of our explosive growth.” Through Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan, we have identified the priority investments needed in our roads, transit, and active transportation in the decades to come. Additional federal funds, when paired with historic state investments in Utah’s multi-modal transportation system, and local investments, will help Utah address transportation needs into the future. 
  • The multimodal approach to this package is consistent with Utah’s principles for federal transportation reauthorization that were developed by Utah’s transportation agencies, local governments, and private sector stakeholders. 

To hear more from Senator Romney on infrastructure funding, watch the video recording of his recent briefing with the Salt Lake Chamber.