TOPEKA – The heads of the Overland Park and Topeka Chambers of Commerce say a $ 1.2 trillion federal infrastructure bill would be a one-time investment in roads, bridges, airports, broadband, watersheds and state water pipes.

These long overdue investments are necessary to keep Kansas competitive in a global economy, they say, and would benefit education, jobs, commerce, agriculture, public safety and health care. health.

“Today we are the crossroads of America and our economy depends on the safe and efficient movement of goods, both in and out of our state,” said Tracey Osborne Oltjen, President and Chief Executive Officer. the management of the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce. “Our safe and efficient travel times are a hallmark of our quality of life and our economic development. “

Osborne Oltjen and Curtis Sneden, president of the Grand Topeka Chamber of Commerce, praised the bill in a conference call with reporters on Friday. Neil Bradley, director of policy for the US Chamber of Commerce, joined them on the call.

The US Senate plans to vote on the bill on Saturday, and Kansas GOP senators have expressed concerns. Roger Marshall has said he is opposed to “sweeping spending” and Jerry Moran has opposed the rush to move the legislation forward before it is fully approved.

“We all care about the same things,” Osborne Oltjen said. “And it’s access and connectivity, and making sure our people are safe in their homes, that they can get to work safely and efficiently, and that everyone can thrive. And I know that in the end, that is exactly what matters to our senators as well. “

Kansas would receive $ 2.6 billion in federal assistance for highway projects under the bill, and $ 225 million for replacement and repair, according to a White House fact sheet. bridges. The state would also receive at least $ 273 million for public transportation, $ 100 million to expand broadband Internet coverage, and $ 40 million for electric vehicle charging stations.

Bradley said the cost of the bill is justified by the “long unmet need” for infrastructure investments.

“This is the most fiscally responsible infrastructure package in over a decade that has a chance of becoming law,” Bradley said. “It’s not perfect. It’s hard to navigate between not raising user fees, which was a clear line for many Democrats, and not raising broad-based taxes, which was a red line for many Republicans. “

The package also includes investments of $ 150 million for airport improvements and $ 618 million for watershed programs to support crops, livestock and municipal water needs.

“We are keenly aware of the crisis that threatens the rapid depletion of our aquifer, and particularly in western Kansas,” Sneden said. “We are therefore delighted to see that this bill would invest more than $ 50 billion across the country in water infrastructure, recharging our groundwater storage systems, protecting us against droughts, floods and forest fires. . “

Sneden said the infrastructure bill “represents the exact kind of investment we need to make now if we are to achieve the future that we know awaits us there. Kansans has proven time and time again that we are ready to take on the challenge of competing on the world stage. ”

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