Source: News & Observer
Major legislation passed in Washington in 2021 and 2022 will provide revenue – in the form of tax breaks, grants and direct payments – for desperately needed infrastructure improvements in North Carolina and throughout the country.
The money being given to states will pay for more clean energy, road repairs, bridges, upgraded and updated sewer and water systems, and more high-speed internet access to rural areas.
Gerald Cohen, who is the chief economist with UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise told The News & Observer that the federal dollars coming to our state will support both new construction and overdue repairs. While that’s good news, there is some bad news.
“Unfortunately, we’ve built up this backlog of infrastructure needs,” he said. “We’ve underinvested in our physical plants and in resources to support people with things like broadband access.”
Cohen went on to tell The News & Observer that not only will these funds address infrastructure needs that have been neglected for far too long, but they could also act as an economic stimulus if rising interest rates lead to higher unemployment and a slowing of the economy.
“It’s coming at a time when the economy could use a boost,” he said.
Most of the funding comes from three bills backed by the Biden administration and passed by Congress: the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
Gov. Roy Cooper’s office provided The News & Observer with a partial breakdown of the amount of money the state will receive:
- $11 billion over the next five years from the IIJA, and potentially billions more in competitive grants from $45 billion still to be awarded.
- Under the IRA, North Carolina will get at least $10 billion in grants and subsidized loans, but that could go as high as $30 billion, depending on the state’s success in seeking grants and loans. The IRA, in many ways a clean energy bill, will provide the state with an estimated $2.7 billion to increase large-scale clean power generation and storage. One noticeable result will be a network of fast-charging stations along and near the state’s major highways that will make it possible to cross the state quickly in an electric vehicle.
- The CHIPS and Science Act will provide between $6 billion and $11 billion over the next five years to support scientific research, STEM education and investments in semiconductor manufacturing.
According to The News & Observer, this money should move infrastructure projects delayed by their price, including a project to replace a 60-year-old swing bridge that links Tyrrell and Dare counties, expanding broadband internet access as well as water infrastructure improvements, among others.