PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The White House has announced a bipartisan infrastructure package worth roughly $1 trillion.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined Matt Sheehan for On the Record to talk about how this package will impact Illinois.
Sheehan: When it comes to Illinois, what are some major items you think are important to get passed when it comes to this package?
“The drinking water and wastewater portion is crucial. I am the Chairwoman of the Water Subcommittee, Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water. The backbone of the water portion of this was actually my Drinking Water and Waste Water Act that I managed to get through the entire process. It got 89 votes on the floor, so it was very bipartisan. I’m very pleased with the significant amount of dollars there for the replacement of lead service lines. Illinois has 23% of the nation’s entire lead service lines. We have exponentially more than anyone else. Most of that is in the Chicago and Chicagoland area.”
$43 billion is funneled through that Act.
Sen. Duckworth said its focus is to get contaminants out of our water systems and replace lead service lines.
There’s $110 billion in new funds for roads, bridges, and major projects. There’s a lot of money in there the State can apply for to complete those projects.”
Duckworth said she’s proud her All-Station Accessibility Project is in the package.
“Money is in there to make mass transit stations completely ADA compliant. I don’t ride the L because I don’t know if the particular station will be wheelchair accessible. This has money in it that will address that issue across the country,” she told Sheehan. “We are the center of infrastructure for the nation. If you want to move goods and people from the East coast to the West coast by roads, rail, or air you’re coming through Illinois. So we’re going to get a tremendous amount of benefit through this bill.”
SHEEHAN: When it comes to traditional infrastructure, people think of roads locks and dams. Some people out there think there might be some “pork” in this package. What would you say to these people?
“The most modern item in there that hasn’t been there in the past is broadband, but I don’t see that as “pork” at all. If you are a parent of a child who had to be doing school distanced during the pandemic, you’ll know how important having broadband access is. There’s $65 billion in there that will ensure every American has access to reliable high-speed internet. If you had to work at home anytime in the last 18 months, you know how important internet access is,” Sen. Duckworth said.
“When I traveled in southern Illinois I talked to many businesses who said ‘Hey, I want to come into Southern Illinois and set up factories, but we’re not going to do that because you don’t have broadband.’ It’s preventing businesses from coming to Illinois, especially Southern Illinois,” Sen. Duckworth continued People want to establish call centers and they’re just not doing it because there’s no broadband in that Southern part of our state. I’d have to say broadband is much more modern, but I think it’s just as important as your utilities. I think we as a nation need to think of broadband as we think of electricity or water. It’s a utility at this point.”
In next week’s On the Record, Sheehan will be sitting down one-on-one with Peoria Mayor Dr. Rita Ali. They will be discussing her first 100 days as mayor, and what she says about the future of Peoria.