Construction industry reacts to Biden’s infrastructure plan
By Riley SimpsonApril 02, 2021
Last week, President Joe Biden unveiled the $2.3-trillion American Jobs Plan, which will focus on modernizing the country’s transportation infrastructure and growing the economy by raising corporate tax rates from 21% to 28%.
Here are several reactions, ranging from supportive to critical of certain aspects, from associations and officials within the construction industry:
National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA)
Doug Carlson, CEO of NUCA, said the plan has good elements, especially the $111 billion devoted to improving the nation’s water infrastructure systems and the $100 billion each committed to broadband upgrades and electric grid resiliency.
“The best thing that can be said about the plan is that the Administration and Congress, and both parties, are at least talking about infrastructure,” Carlson said. “Our deteriorating water and wastewater systems, crumbling highways and insufficient broadband capacity can’t be ignored forever.”
However, Carlson said NUCA is wary about how the government will pay for the plan with corporate tax increases on the companies that will be creating the new jobs proposed in the legislation.
“Congress has its work cut out on reconciling this plan with economic and fiscal realities,” Carlson said.
U.S. Concrete CEO Ronnie Pruitt told Yahoo! Finance Live that the American Jobs Plan looks good on paper, but he shared similar concerns about funding the plan.
“I think you got to figure out a way to pay for it, “Pruitt said. “We have talked about gas taxes. We have talked about tolls and registrations. We have talked about government taxes as far as infrastructure goes. At the end of the day, we have to figure out how to pay for it. I do think there is a model there that users pay more for the roads, and we are a big user of that.”
Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC)
Although Michael Bellaman, CEO of ABC, said he agrees with Biden that the U.S. desperately needs to modernize its transportation and energy systems, the president’s plan diverges from ABC’s infrastructure policy recommendations while also proposing tax increases on job-creating construction firms that are still recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“While policy details are still emerging and the infrastructure plan will need to go through Congress, it is disappointing to see the Biden administration support the use of divisive government-mandated project labor agreement schemes on taxpayer-funded construction projects,” Bellaman said. “Coupled with a call for Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, it is clear the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan is designed to help powerful donors and special interests instead of all Americans.”
Although ABC differs on several key points, Bellaman said he encourages President Biden to pursue a bipartisan path forward and that ABC will collaborate with Congress and the Biden administration to improve the infrastructure plan.
Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM)
AEM said it “applauds” Biden’s infrastructure plan, and AEM President Dennis Slater said the president’s priorities reflect those outlined in the association’s “U.S. Infrastructure Report.”
Slater mentioned modernizing aging infrastructure assets to guarantee our global economic competitiveness, expanding broadband connectivity, creating new sector partnerships, boosting work-based learning programs and ensuring that state and local governments have the fiscal resources they need as key priorities.
“Equipment manufacturers applaud President Biden for seizing this generational opportunity to rebuild our country and jump start the economy, and we look forward to working with his administration, as well as both parties in Congress, to swiftly advance and pass commonsense and bipartisan legislation under regular order,” Slater said. “The time to act is now.”