State Infrastructure Will Grow Stronger With American Jobs Plan | Opinion

Fixing the damn roads. It's a promise we both made to both Michigan and Wisconsin when we were running for governor in 2018 and one that we're already working to fulfill with increased funding and innovation in our states. But years of neglect means fixing our roads and other outdated infrastructure can't happen overnight and it can't happen without serious federal support. As we work to bounce back from this pandemic, continued state investments and the American Jobs Plan are needed to spur transformational change and create more opportunity for everyone.

Over the past two years, both Michigan and Wisconsin have prioritized infrastructure. Wisconsin's 2019-21 budget included the largest investment in transportation infrastructure in a generation: $465 million for road projects. During the pandemic, hundreds of projects have moved forward—some even under budget and ahead of schedule. In Michigan, a new $3.5 billion road bonding plan is supporting investments in 122 major new projects across the state—without an increase at the pump. This investment will create thousands of good-paying construction jobs, keep drivers safe and save Michigan money in the long run.

And we're not just focusing on roads and bridges. In Wisconsin, the second budget in a row includes what will be the state's largest-ever broadband investment. In Michigan, the second budget in a row includes the largest investment in K-12 education in state history without raising taxes. And both states are taking critical action to rebuild and protect drinking water infrastructure, including the removal of lead service lines to make sure every family has clean, safe water at their tap, a goal replicated at the national level by the American Jobs Plan. We're also making sure investments are spread across our states, improving opportunity regardless of who you are or your zip code.

The progress we're already making is helping connect our communities and create greater economic opportunities in our states. But these projects are just the beginning. If we're serious about bouncing back from this pandemic, it's never been more important for us to make real investments in our future. Investing in infrastructure primes economic growth by connecting families and businesses virtually and physically with the rest of the world, and will help create good-paying jobs for American workers.

Capitol
The American flag flies at the U.S. Capitol. Al Drago/Getty Images

That's why it's time to pass the American Jobs Plan. We've made tremendous progress in our states, but transformational change is going to require a partnership with the federal government. The American Jobs Plan will put Americans back to work and lay the foundation to strengthen our economy and compete at a global scale.

This isn't only about creating new opportunity in Michigan and Wisconsin. Here's what the American Jobs Plan would mean across the country: 20,000 miles of highways and roads will be updated, failing bridges will be repaired or replaced and long-overdue upgrades to ports, airports and transit systems will finally happen. The plan commits to eliminating all lead pipes and service lines and bringing reliable broadband to every American, including 35 million rural Americans who currently lack access.

In Wisconsin and Michigan, we're proving every day that progress on infrastructure is possible, even during an unprecedented pandemic and in states with governors and legislatures from different parties. We can't afford to slow down now. Our continued investments, coupled with the American Jobs Plan, will give our families, workers, small businesses and communities the tools they need to come back from this pandemic stronger than ever before. Let's make sure we don't miss this opportunity.

Tony Evers is the governor of Wisconsin and Gretchen Whitmer is the governor of Michigan.

The views expressed in this article are the writers' own.