Biden administration previews what its American Jobs Act would mean for FL: more than roads and bridges

The Biden administration's eight-year, $2 billion infrastructure plan includes expanded health services for veterans. Shown is a veterans' ceremony in Monroe County. Credit: Monroe County website

Here’s what Joe Biden’s $2 trillion American Jobs Plan would mean for Florida: Shorter commutes. Defenses against rising oceans. Cleaner drinking water. More affordable housing. Extension of broadband into rural and poor neighborhoods.

But the eight-year plan includes more than roads and bridges — the traditional definition of infrastructure. It also would beef up health care for veterans, older people, the disabled, and children. It promises home weatherization assistance. Also, jobs.

“This is the moment to reimagine and rebuild a new economy. The American Jobs Plan is an investment in America that will create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s infrastructure, and position the United States to out-compete China,” the administration said in a written statement.

“Public domestic investment as a share of the economy has fallen by more than 40 percent since the 1960s. The American Jobs Plan will invest in America in a way we have not invested since we built the interstate highways and won the Space Race.”

Republicans have criticized Biden’s plan to raise the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent to help finance the plan. Florida U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott both have criticized that aspect, as WPLG in South Florida has reported.

“A so-called $2T ‘COVID’ bill that had little to do with COVID, a so-called $4T ‘Infrastructure’ bill that has little to do with infrastructure. Biden and DC Democrats can only think to spend more, and it is leading our nation into astronomical debt,” Scott tweeted on April 6.

The statement notes that the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Florida a C on its infrastructure report card. The administration didn’t break out the size of investments for individual states. It does note the size of Florida’s infrastructure deficits, however.

For example, Florida has 408 bridges and more than 3,500 miles of highway deemed to be in poor condition; that commute times have increased by 11.6 percent since 2011; and each driver in the state pays $425 per year for vehicle damage caused by driving on defective roads.

The plan, meanwhile, notes that the state spent more than $100 million dollars to repair storm damage between 2010 and 2020; that its drinking water infrastructure needs nearly $22 million in investments: and that more than 1.4 million Floridians are “rent burdened” — meaning that more than 30 percent of their paychecks go for housing.

Low-income families spend an average 8 percent to 10 percent of their earnings on energy, “forcing tough choices between paying energy bills and buying food, medicine or other essentials,” the plan says.

Additionally, 6 percent of Floridians lack access to reliable broadband services and more than 51 percent live in areas with a single provider. Thirteen percent lack any internet services. “Even where infrastructure is available, broadband may be too expensive to be within reach,” it says.

Thirty-eight percent of residents lack access to childcare. “The American Jobs Plan will modernize our nation’s schools and early learning facilities and build new ones in neighborhoods across Florida and the country,” the document says.

As for veterans, the plan notes that more than 1.5 million live in Florida, 9.5 percent of them women and 53 percent older than 65. Nationally, the plan would invest $18 billion in Veterans Administration health programs.

“The American Jobs Plan invests in creating more good paying union jobs advancing clean energy production by extending and expanding tax credits for clean energy generation, carbon capture and sequestration and clean energy manufacturing,” the document says.

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.