Monday, March 20, 2023

Bang for buck blossoms with infrastructure

| May 28, 2021 1:00 AM

What do former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, President Joe Biden and Idaho Gov. Brad Little have in common?

When it comes to infrastructure investment, they get it.

Do you?

Resistance to Biden’s massive infrastructure investment proposal, trimmed late last week to $1.7 trillion, is coming almost exclusively from the Republican side of the aisle. The disagreement likely has as much to do with some of the proposed investments — two “e” words, energy and environment, spring to mind — as it does with the big number on the bottom line.

Enter Ike and Little, stage right.

In 1956, the Republican president succeeded in launching a massive infrastructure program that would build our nation’s interstate highway system. By “massive” we mean $25 billion, which seems paltry by today’s standards but was a watermelon-sized pill for those with narrow throats and vision in the mid-’50s.

To get funding off the ground, Eisenhower pushed through a 3-cent per gallon gas tax (its modern equivalent would be 24 cents a gallon).

Ike’s goal was for the system to be completed by 1972. It wasn’t done until 1993, and the final price tag was over $130 billion. But, boy, has it paid off — in jobs, in interstate commerce, in safety.

We’re at a similar juncture today. Biden recognizes that, and so does Gov. Little.

Little successfully ushered through the legislative session a transportation plan that will move $80 million annually from state sales tax revenue to road and bridge improvement. That $80 million will allow Idaho to bond for $1.6 billion in statewide transportation improvements.

Under Little’s leadership, the state is also ramping up investment in other infrastructure needs, ranging from broadband to water. Results of a new study show why folks like Ike, Joe and Brad are on the right track.

The analysis from Business Roundtable says that increased investment in U.S. physical infrastructure would result in an additional $1,400 in disposable income for the average Idaho household every year for 20 years and create 6,000 new jobs in Idaho by 2030.

That’s a lot of jobs and the equivalent of a fat stimulus check for each family annually.

You can review details of the study:

Do so, please, with an open mind toward investing in projects which make America — and Americans — that much stronger.

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