From the historic hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.
Highways and bridges are truly non-partisan.
You can drive on them whether or not you’re a Democrat or a Republican.
That’s just one of the reasons I was encouraged when Congress passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.
Of course, the main reasons I support the spending bill is that America needs to rebuild our roads, bridges and waterways – starting now.
You probably have heard criticism of the infrastructure bill from the Arkansas Congressional delegation.
But if you listen closely to all the criticism, you won’t hear any specific disagreements with any particular provisions of the bill.
Boiled down to its essentials, the criticism amounts to little more than partisanship.
The simple truth is that members of both political parties worked out the details in the spending bill.
Arkansas stands to gain enormously from federal spending written into the bill. For example, we are scheduled to receive about $3.6 billion for improvements to our highways.
According to federal estimates, Arkansas will get an additional $278 million for repairs and replacements of bridges.
The bill has $100 million for Arkansas to expand access to high speed Internet, with provisions in the bill written specifically to help low-income families afford broadband access.
I’ve said it before, and it’s more true than ever: access to the Internet is just as critical for the economic prosperity of rural Arkansas, as was electric power generated through the Rural Electrification Act of the 1930s.
Any parts of the country without Internet access will be left further and further behind, in terms of jobs, health care and education.
Water systems are just as vital for growth, as well as for the health and welfare. Fortunately, there are very few people in Arkansas who can remember the days when most of us drank water that came from wells and local streams.
Widespread irrigation allowed Arkansas farmers to be part of the breadbasket of the nation, and now we help feed the world.
Water systems require maintenance, so I was delighted to learn that the new infrastructure bill grants about $528 million for clean drinking water and irrigation systems in Arkansas.
The infrastructure bill is a much needed investment in our future, and for that reason alone it deserves our applause. But I also want to applaud the fact that it was the product of bipartisanship.
Members of Congress from both parties were willing to put the welfare of the entire country ahead of their personal political interest, and that allowed them to reach a compromise that benefits everyone.
Finally, I want to encourage all of you to honor the men and women who fought, and who died, to make the United States a free country.
Not just on Veterans Day, but every day of the year we should acknowledge our appreciation of their sacrifice and service.
Every American can be extraordinarily proud and grateful for their service. We will never forget their sacrifice, and we will always honor their memory.
From the Capitol, it is always my great honor and sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.