A media release Tuesday from the Governor’s Office decried “inadequate” funding for bridge repair from the federal government, lamenting that Florida again got less money than it deserves from the Joe Biden administration.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ remarks dissed the “inadequate allotment” as another “disservice to the state and its nearly 22 million residents.” He called it further evidence that Democrats in Washington just don’t want Florida to succeed.
“Last week, the Biden administration announced it would continue to harm Florida for its success through the distribution of less than $245 million to Florida for bridge repairs out of the almost $27 billion in bridge investments that states will be receiving through the Bridge Formula Program within the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA),” the media release read, before setting up an attributed quote from the Governor.
“The Biden Administration continues to punish states that are succeeding,” DeSantis said. “Despite obstacles created by the Biden Administration, the State of Florida continues to thrive and foster an environment that draws new residents and tourists every single day. By doing so, Florida has continued to grow, and our infrastructure must be able to keep up the pace. The Biden Administration though is short-changing Florida yet again.”
Florida, per the Bridge Formula, has 408 structurally deficient bridges. Other states are getting more money with fewer flawed bridges. But the media release contends that infrastructural spend is misplaced, as people are already leaving their former states for Florida.
“People are fleeing other states for the free and growing state of Florida, all of which will need access to quality infrastructure that was not available in their previous home states,” the Governor’s Office contends.
“Florida is a national leader in transportation infrastructure, and as a result, a bold and proactive approach should be rewarded, not penalized,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault. “FDOT takes great pride in achieving a level of maintenance that meets and exceeds the established standards and expectations, and it is disheartening to see Florida will not benefit as much as others because we have proactively maintained our critical transportation system.”
For what it’s worth, the Biden administration sees Florida’s infrastructure as something less than “proactively maintained.”
“The need for action in Florida is clear. For decades, infrastructure in Florida has suffered from a systemic lack of investment. In fact, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Florida a C grade on its infrastructure report card,” asserts a Biden Administration fact sheet from last year.
The Governor’s Office noted that action isn’t forthcoming.
“Unfortunately, Florida will only receive 0.92 percent of the $26.5 billion funding going to states compared to the 4.78 percent of highway funding Florida normally receives. States including Washington, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey will receive more funding for bridge repairs despite Florida ranking as the third most populous state in the country, only behind California and Texas.”
Florida has $15 billion in reserves in the Governor’s proposed budget, meaning the state could dip into its own coffers and upgrade those bridges relatively quickly without any more federal help. But that doesn’t seem to be the inclination of DeSantis’ office, which has a history of complaints about the Biden administration benefiting “blue states” over Florida and other Republican redoubts in its “pork-barrel spending” initiatives.
Interestingly, the Governor offered remarks weeks back on Biden infrastructure priorities, in which he took issue with U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg contending that roadway design of the mid-20th century often had racist intent, reinforcing and creating geographic boundaries that destroyed entire neighborhoods in favor of freeways.
“I heard some stuff, some weird stuff from the Secretary of Transportation trying to make this about social issues,” DeSantis said. “To me, a road’s a road.”