KENTUCKY — The fate of President Joe Biden’s $1T infrastructure package will ultimately determine the future of major road and bridge projects here in Kentucky. But despite it being a bipartisan bill, there’s still partisan disagreement amongst the state’s political leaders.
What You Need To Know
- President Biden’s infrastructure package could influence what is to come of major Kentucky road and bridge projects
- Gov. Beshear says he’d like to see major projects like the Brent Spence Bridge included
- Republicans continue to ask where the money is going to come from
- Sen. Rand Paul says he’s undecided on the bill
Gov. Andy Beshear stressed the vital importance of the health of Kentucky's infrastructure during his visit to Northern Kentucky this week. He referenced the work that’s been done on the Brent Spence Bridge since he’s been in office as an accomplishment, but most are in agreement the bridge still needs a lot of work.
Whether it and other major projects would be included in the new infrastructure package is a question a lot of people have, the governor said.
“We are all waiting with bated breath to see if the Brent Spence bridge will be specifically included in that infrastructure bill. It needs to be. Because when you look at the Brent Spence bridge, it is one of the major arteries of our country’s commerce, which means that only a small percentage of what crosses it every day are Kentucky or Ohio businesses, cars or residents,” Beshear said.
For the bridge to move forward, though, Beshear said the federal government needs to play a major role. He said he would like to see full funding for the bridge, or at least a significant portion included in the infrastructure bill.
“I think with this transportation bill, and with the current administration, that they are open to large federal projects. You look at the federal government that built our interstates. And we’re grateful in Kentucky for them. They help us be the logistic center of the United States,” Beshear said. “But what we’ve seen over the past several decades is them abdicating their responsibility in terms of maintenance and new construction. We’d like to see in a time when we’re all trying to spur economic growth, and the federal government’s spending dollars, for them to step up and do it.”
As for the state’s top Republican lawmakers, the question continues to be: where do those dollars come from?
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the disagreements between Republican and Democrat lawmakers are based on passing a bill that “does include spending taxpayer money on unneeded, non-infrastructure issues.”
McConnell said Democrats are still trying to spend like the country is in the middle of the pandemic, and not near the end. He called it a “staredown,” and suggested where he’d like the discussions to start
“Pass the thing we can agree on, and then we’ll have a debate, an argument and a vote over all the rest,” he said. “So that’s where we are. I’m not quite sure how this is going to play out, but the larger question is how much debt are we prepared to saddle the country with for the future?”
Sen. Rand Paul shared similar thoughts Tuesday.
“I’m for the approach. I think a bipartisan approach on roads and bridges, locks and dams is a good idea. I’m concerned about how it’s going to be paid for. I’ve been advocating for probably 10 years that we take the $15 billion we spend a year in Afghanistan and spend it at home on roads and bridges. That would be $500 billion right there over 10 years,” Paul said. “We’ve looked at the military budget, and they are showing no cost savings. So we’re gonna bring troops home, but we’re still going to give them a ton of money. I think we need to be spending that money here at home. I think we should also prioritize where we’re wasting money. There’s a lot of waste that runs throughout the government that we could shift waste into something more productive. But some of their pay-fors I’m not sure are real. But we’re gonna sort through the pay-fors before we make a final decision.”
As for right now, Paul said he’s undecided.