Hardly a week goes by without someone reaching out to ask us about road repairs.
The same thing happens at every single fiscal court meeting. Someone wants a road taken into the county system so the county can maintain it. Or, unhappy with county maintenance, they want a road taken out of the county system so they can gate and maintain it themselves.
Other times they want to ask about potholes. They want new gravel put on after rain storms wash their gravel away. They want a road paved to fix the problems with gravel. They want undermined asphalt shored up.
It isn’t just roads. We need new bridges. We need better internet. We need water and sewer extended to areas that don’t have it.
It’s always something. And the problem, every time, is how it will be paid for.
Meanwhile, in Washington, we have a president who wants to invest a trillion dollars in infrastructure projects, and our elected representatives want to quibble over how to distribute it – and how much to distribute – while ordinary Americans like the people of Carter County continue to watch their water lines, roads, and bridges crumble.
The complaint, from those who don’t support the President’s grand plan, is that it is too expensive. They don’t want to pay for childcare – for instance – and other so-called “human infrastructure” projects out of the plan.
There is a possible way forward. Some politicians working on a compromise bill have proposed shaving those other “human infrastructure” projects off for their own vote, and letting the physical infrastructure plan stand on its own merit.
If this gets the job done, we’re all for it. But we cannot allow our elected officials to bog down such an important project in the typical partisan bickering. This is too important to too many people and communities.
It’s important to the people of Martin County who still don’t have a safe water delivery system.
It’s important to the people of Covington, who need a new bridge to replace the ancient suspension bridge crossing the Ohio River to Cincinnati.
It’s important to all of us who need passable roads, connection to a broadband network that can open up new economic opportunities, and investment in projects that could help with flood control.
This is one time, too, when the price tag should not be a sticking point. This is money that will be used to improve the nation. It will create jobs for the skilled craftsperson and those in the trades industries. It will not only improve the roads and bridges and water lines in communities, but the money made by those living in the communities who work on these projects will roll over, benefiting local restaurants, retailers, and more.
One of the common refrains from politicians – especially when they want to criticize any relief spending from the other party – is that America needs to take care of Americans before they take care of other countries.
Now, though, is the time for those politicians who say they want to support Americans instead of foreign governments to put their money where their mouth is.
The president’s infrastructure plan, or a compromise plan, is their opportunity to do what they claim they want to do. This is their chance to put a spending focus on programs that rebuild America. This is their chance to support programs that benefit the American people and create American jobs.
This is not the time to obstruct a plan just because it comes from a colleague on the opposite side of the aisle.
This is the time to do something for the American people. This is the time to rebuild our country, to replace century old water lines and Cold War era roads with new technology and a focus on growth for the next 100 years.
Now’s the time to put up or shut up. Our elected officials say they want to do something for the American people. This is their chance to do it. If they don’t, if Mitch and Rand cost Kentucky these needed improvements to play politics as usual, we better remember come November.