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Politics

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 signed into law

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(photo by Npangarkar)

On Monday, the President signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 into law. The $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill passed Congress late last week with a House vote of 228-206 while the Senate passed the measure 69-30 in August.

A major portion of the bill’s spending covers more traditional infrastructure to address the country’s aging roads and bridges ($110 billion), water infrastructure ($55 billion) and rail ($66
billion). This bill also includes funds for nontraditional infrastructure, such as broadband ($65 billion) and community resiliency measures ($47 billion) to address flooding, wildfires and coastal
erosion. Of course, there are numerous other provisions in the bill and it will likely be a couple of weeks before the public has an understanding of all the elements of this legislation.

It is estimated that Mississippi will directly receive approximately $4.46 billion over the next five years. That figure could change based on the final spending formulas and other funds that the
state could compete for and receive. Below is a breakdown of what Mississippi should receive based on federal estimates:

  • Roads and bridges: $3.3 billion
  • Water lines and pipes: $429 million
  • Public transportation: $223 million
  • High-speed internet: $100 million
  • Airports: $99 million
  • Electric vehicle chargers: $51 million
  • Community resiliency: $19 million
  • Cybersecurity: $16 million

Mississippi does not currently have a state broadband office, broadband coordinator or state broadband plan.  With $65 billion being invested federally, Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Brent Bailey says the state needs to begin now to get ready to administer those funds. A breakdown of the application of these funds is as follows:

  • $42.5 billion for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program (BEAD), which creates a program to be overseen by the National Telecommunications and
    Information Administration (NTIA) and which will direct funding to the states for broadband deployments, adoption programs and other broadband programs. Each
    state will get at least $100 million, with more going to states with a high level of unserved locations. (per this bill, unserved means areas that lack 25/3 Mbps)
  • $14.2 billion for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which will be overseen by the FCC and which will provide $30 a month toward the cost of broadband for lowincome and other in-need households. The program is designed to essentially extend and replace the Emergency Broadband Benefit program.
  • $2.75 billion Digital Equity Program, a broadband adoption and literacy program.
  • $2 billion in additional funding for the USDA Rural Utilities Service ReConnect program.
  • $2 billion in additional funding for the Tribal Broadband Program administered by NTIA
  • $1 billion for a new middle-mile program to be overseen by NTIA
  • $.6 billion for tax exempt private activity bonds, which state and local governments can use to support broadband deployments
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