Op-Ed by Jim Rennaci
I joined President Trump on Thursday at an event in Richfield, Ohio where he discussed his bold plan to rebuild infrastructure in America with minimal federal involvement. I’m proud to support his proposal because it’s in best interests of my nearby congressional district and of America as a whole.
The Council of Economic Advisers estimates the president’s plan will spur significant gross domestic product growth and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. In addition, his proposal includes critical reforms to improve access to high-quality education and workforce development programs.
Skills training and apprenticeship programs like those offered at the training facility run by the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 18 – where President Trump spoke Thursday – are a necessary resource that helps prepare workers for high-demand, good-paying jobs.
President Trump understands that America’s roads, bridges and airports are collapsing. Right now, we have 80-year-old bridges built with a 40-year lifespan. Infrastructure is desperate for a facelift in Ohio and across this county.
Just look at Cincinnati’s Brent Spence Bridge. When it opened in 1963, it was designed to accommodate 80,000 cars per day. Today more than 160,000 cars use the bridge daily. For the last decade, the Cincinnati City Council has been working to deal with the problem. Like with any major investment project, the issue has been funding.
As a businessman for the last three decades, I understand the value of a dollar. I didn’t come to Congress in 2011 to spend dollars that can’t produce growth, yet too often that is what Congress winds up doing.
President Trump’s plan calls for a private-public partnership that would spur $1.5 trillion of private investment, while only requiring $200 billion in federal spending.
Half the federal funding would be allocated to an incentive program through which every state, local and private dollar invested will also receive a partial federal match. However, before the state, local and private investors can receive federal funding, each project milestone would have to be reached by a specific deadline. This gives the program a layer of accountability that is a nice change coming out of Washington.
While we are creating jobs, we must also prepare our workforce to thrive within the construction industry. President Trump shares my passion for bringing vocational education and training back to schools. I don’t believe college is the answer for everyone, and I have been speaking out about the importance of expanding apprenticeships, work-based learning and dual-enrollment opportunities.
We must encourage course offerings in high schools to prepare students for high-skilled infrastructure jobs. It’s clear as I travel the state the industry is hungry for such workers.
Now it’s up to Congress to draft legislation that can turn President Trump’s vision of an infrastructure plan into a reality.
I am hopeful that fixing our crumbling roads and bridges can be a bipartisan endeavor. America is due for improved infrastructure that increases safety and diminishes traffic congestion. Ohio deserves better and I am ready to put Ohio first.