Opinion: Commentary: What President Biden's American Jobs Plan Means to Virginia

Opinion: Commentary: What President Biden's American Jobs Plan Means to Virginia

The Biden administration recently released its American Jobs Plan which includes 2.25 billion dollars of national investment in infrastructure and services. This proposal is deficit-neutral over the next fifteen years by calling for a modest increase in corporate income taxes and eliminating a number of tax shelters. I believe these proposed investments will benefit Virginians and the residents of the 30th district.

Our infrastructure is in dire straits. We have 577 bridges and thousands of miles of highway in Virginia that have fallen into disrepair. Our roads consistently get near-failing grades from the American Society for Civil Engineers. The plan includes $600 billion dollars across the country to fix our transportation infrastructure. Ten percent of trains and other transit vehicles in the state are past useful life. This is why I particularly welcome proposed funds to modernize public transit. As long-time advocate for sustainable transportation investment and a member of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC), I am happy to share that as part of this plan we would receive funding to improve the Metro, Amtrak, and bus services safely across Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax as well as allocate resources to the improve the use and safety of our heavily trafficked roads, bike paths, and pedestrian walkways.

We are no strangers to flooding and the devastating impacts of extreme weather events in the 30th district. I know the long hours Alexandria residents have spent piling heavy sandbags to protect their homes and small businesses. Stormwater utility bills have increased in recent years as we try to fix our insufficient and unsanitary wastewater treatment infrastructure. This is why, during the General Assembly session this year, I sponsored SB1309, a bill which will allow our local elected officials in Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax to use local flood water funds for short-term, stop-gap projects to protect neighborhoods and homes from inland flooding. I’m glad that the American Jobs Plan includes $50 billion dollars to improve our resilience against extreme weather events and flooding. That could be a gamechanger.

I know that safe drinking water is crucial for our community to thrive. This means no exposure to lead or dangerous chemicals in our municipal water systems. Biden’s infrastructure plan allocates $111 billion dollars to accelerate efforts and ensure everyone has access to affordable, clean, and safe water.

Affordable, high-speed internet is as necessary today as running water and electricity. It has allowed Virginians to log in to school and work during the pandemic, as well as access critical city and county services, pay their bills, and keep in touch with an ever changing world. We have been working to increase access to broadband in rural Virginia for years, and I am proud to have supported an increase in annual funding from $35 million to $50 million for the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative which works to expand access to broadband in underserved areas. Significantly more investment is needed, as we still are far from the goal of making sure every Virginian has access to broadband. The American Jobs Plan includes $100 billion dollars for affordable broadband infrastructure. Such funds will improve access to information and invest in the students, businesses, and communities whose potential remains restricted by access to the internet.

No veteran should have to wait to access lifesaving healthcare. We are privileged to have over 725,000 veterans call Virginia home, with more than 10% of them living in Northern Virginia. President Biden has allocated $18 billion dollars to improve veteran’s healthcare infrastructure in Virginia, especially for women veterans and veterans over the age of 65 who have historically suffered from poor access to health services. This investment will help thousands of families who have served our country live longer and healthier lives.

In Virginia, and across the globe, climate change threatens our long-term safety and ways of life. We took important steps at the state level to address this by passing the Virginia Clean Economy Act (in the 2020 session) which created renewable energy standards which will make our state carbon-neutral by 2050. This requires growing our already large job market for renewable energy (97,305 Virginians are already employed in the industry) and the Biden plan creates a vehicle to make that feasible, expanding and reforming renewable energy tax credits. As we upgrade our grid, many low-income Virginians continue to face challenges of affording their energy bills. The Biden plan also emphasizes lowering costs for low-income Virginians, who spend up to 8% of their monthly income on energy. Finally, The plan calls for a major investment in weatherization assistance to reduce energy loss and increased tax credits for efficient home energy upgrades.

I was pleased to learn the recent polling from Navigator shows that the content of this bill draws bipartisan support from Americans. Opportunities for jobs, intentional recovery, and 21st century planning are popular because they are vital to our continued growth and success. The American Jobs Plan is a much needed and overdue package that will not only address long-standing issues with our existing infrastructure, but also invest in its future so that we can get where we need to go, no matter where we start out. You can find out more about the American Jobs Plan at WhiteHouse.gov or my efforts to support investments in infrastructure at AdamEbbin.com. It is my continued honor to serve the 30th District.