by Matt Pierce Briscoe
Many Texans can remember a time when the Texas infrastructure was among the best in the nation. Now if you look around it is among the worst. Roads and bridges are crumbling and access to basic modern systems and services are at an all-time low. On Monday, President Joe Biden announced his infrastructure report explaining the problems that Texans are facing and how his administration plans to deal with them.
According to the White House, the Biden plan will bring historic amounts of money to Texas in order to help improve and maintain the state’s degrading system. Overall, the White House rates the state’s infrastructure system as a “C” on it’s Infrastructure Report Card.
818 bridges and over 19,000 miles of roads in Texas are considered to be rated in poor condition. While Texans continue to pay taxes, fees, penalties and other amounts, including some citation revenue, that are set aside for infrastructure improvements, there is obviously very little indication that the state is truly using that money for its intended purpose and now, the federal government is going to drop a whopping $115 billion dollars into the state just to repair rods and bridges.
On average, the report shows that Texans are spending more time commuting back and forth to work—and that is evident right here around Corpus Christi. Since 2011, Texans have seen an increase in their commute time of 11.4% and each Texas driver pays around $709 per year to do it.
The plan also address the need to improve public transportation in Texas by helping modernize public transportation programs in places like Corpus Christi where the minority population is very high. Non-white households tend to utilize public transportation more than 80% more often than whites. The recently released report shows that more than 12% of the trains and buses in the state are well past their useful life. The White House thinks that is unsatisfactory and is aiming to get a handle on it. Texas government officials have, like in most cases done little to improve the current state of public transportation in years believing that it is simply a way to discourage people from driving and paying more in use taxes and fees.
When it comes to weather and natural disasters Texas has had its fair share of problems to contend with. From 2010 to 2020, Texas had 67 extreme weather events that cost the state over $200 billion in damages. President Biden is calling or the state to receive another $50 billion dollars to improve resiliency and support communities that are recovering from disasters. Many of of those communities are right here on the coast and have yet to reach the point where they were pre-disaster.
When it comes to clean, safe, drinking water Texans and Corpus Christi residents seem to often on edge. The President’s plan calls for $45 million dollars towards drinking water improvements around the state. While the plan doesn’t detail exactly what those plans are, you can bet community leaders and contractors are already trying to figure out how to swindle residents and taxpayers out of the money that the state is planned to get for the project.
In recent years the lack of available and affordable housing has been a big issue here in Texas. An estimated 1.7 million renters in Texas are rent burdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on rent. The President proposes investing over $200 billion to increase housing supply and address the affordable housing crisis. While the cost of living in places like Corpus Christi is better than some places across the state, prices are only going up and rents are increasing each year.
On the economic development front the plan calls for an impressive amount of investment to be spent on creating jobs here in the Lone Star State.
Manufacturers account for 13% of total output in Texas, employing 908,000 workers, or 7% of the state’s workforce. The Plan says that will invest $300 billion to retool and revitalize American manufacturers, including providing incentives for manufacturers to invest in innovative energy projects in coal communities. While that sounds like an impressive amount of money, the White House did not disclose exactly how much of that Texas will actually get.
Corpus Christi is home to plenty of veterans and they could be seeing some changes ahead. Texas is home to over 1.5 million veterans, 11.2% of who are women and 39.6% who are over the age of 65. The President is calling for $18 billion to improve the infrastructure of VA health care facilities to ensure the delivery of world-class, state of the art care to veterans enrolled in the VA health care system. This includes improvements to ensure appropriate care for women and older veterans.
To view a complete fact sheet of what they plan entails Click the White House link for further reading.