Fried Touts Infrastructure Bill, DeSantis Raises Doubt

Dan Economy, Florida


We told you earlier this week the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3684, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The package is designed to creating jobs by rebuilding our nation’s roads and bridges, and combatting the climate crisis.

According to the News Service of Florida (NSF), a fact sheet from the White House shows Florida is in line to receive just over 19 billion dollars from the new legislation waiting to be signed by President Biden.

And Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is touting the billions of dollars headed to the state for roads and bridges, along with expanding broadband service in rural areas. She says local communities will have to aggressively push to have projects prioritized.

“This is a great starting place. Is it ever going to be enough? No, but certainly this is historic in what we can do moving forward.”

Meanwhile, Governor Ron DeSantis has questioned “pork-barrel” spending in the bill while also arguing Florida might not get its fair share. He pointed to a pilot program in the bill that would study a “driving” tax based on the number of miles people drive, an idea that has been suggested as a replacement for gas taxes.

“They want to monitor the mileage that you are driving in your car, and then tax you per mile. They open the door for that in the bill, and that will never fly in the state of Florida.”

In addition to money for roads, bridges, airports and broadband, the package will provide money for such things as electric-vehicle charging networks, wildfire protection, cyber security and water improvements over the next five years.

NSF notes the bill will allow states to compete for additional money tied to highways, bridges and electric-vehicle charging stations. Florida should also draw some of the $3.5 billion designated for a national weatherization program intended to reduce energy costs for families.

Fried said the federal package is about investing in the state’s future.