In Congressional Hearing, Mayor Brown and Congressman Higgins Highlight the Role of Infrastructure Investment in Advancing Competitiveness & Equity
City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown testified before the House Ways & Means Trade Subcommittee during a hearing on “Advancing U.S. Economic Competitiveness, Equity, and Sustainability Through Infrastructure Investments.” Joining the dialogue was Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26), a member of the Committee.
In his testimony, Mayor Brown pointed out how a lack of federal infrastructure investment is impacting residents and failing communities, “As a result, our infrastructure deteriorated, with the relatively little funding available going mostly to maintenance and repairs. Meanwhile, the cost of even this work, which continues to accelerate, are being borne by the residents who can least afford it. The key to ending this cycle and restoring a sense of equity to our infrastructure funding is having a reengaged federal partner.”
Higgins spoke about the need for infrastructure investment in communities across the nation addressing water and broadband infrastructure specifically, “Our city, an old northeastern city, has a lot of old infrastructure. And while these numbers, for broadband $100 billion, and $111 billion to help us replace old lead lines, sometimes the federal government doesn’t give local governments, cities in this case, the kind of flexibility that they need in order to meet the objective.”
The City of Buffalo has previously committed over $3 million toward water infrastructure improvements through its “Replace Old Lead Lines” (ROLL) program, but 100 miles of lead pipes remain in the City’s network. President Biden’s American Jobs Plan provides $111 billion for the revitalization of the nation’s wastewater, stormwater, and drinking water infrastructure including a commitment to replacing 100 percent of the nation’s lead pipes. This measure alone would invest hundreds of millions of federal dollars to protect and deliver clean water in Buffalo.
The Mayor also addressed broadband needs, “Our information infrastructure must have greater capacity, be more secure, and provide greater accessibility to every resident. That last component is critical to ending some of the racial, economic and wealth disparities that have left too many black and brown children without internet access during the pandemic, while other children who live just a half-mile or less away have excellent connections.”
Mayor Brown welcomed the renewed federal focus in on infrastructure as a game changer for cities like Buffalo, “Through the right kind of infrastructure funding, the kind outlined in the American Jobs Plan, which advances our concept of infrastructure beyond just the roads and bridges built in the last century, we have an opportunity to grow our economy in an equitable and inclusive way. When we think of infrastructure as an investment in our water and sewer systems so our children grow up in healthy homes, in our civic infrastructure so that cultural institutions become public spaces that help heal racial and social divides through art and dialogue and our digital infrastructure so that every resident can participate in the economic, social and educational life of our nation and in our human infrastructure so that the people who are the ultimate users of these systems are leading healthy, safe and productive lives, then we can envision a more prosperous America that benefits every resident.”