Saturday, February 04, 2023

Legislature should act on infrastructure for Montana

| March 19, 2019 4:00 AM

Infrastructure is a conversation that is happening on the national, state and local level. When we talk about our state’s infrastructure in the Montana Legislature, it usually means big money and big problems.

During the last three legislative sessions, the Montana Legislature has failed to pass a comprehensive infrastructure bill that includes funding for critical projects in every corner of our state. It’s not because projects being proposed are not important, or that the legislators don’t have an interest — we have simply lacked the political will to do the right thing when it comes to investing in Montana’s future.

For every year that the Montana Legislature has failed to act, our home communities have suffered even more. Roads and bridges are badly in need of repair, and create unsafe conditions as Montanans travel to work or home each day.

Our students need school buildings with safety upgrades. Too many Montana schools don’t meet current fire codes, and others have had their roofs cave in simply from the weight of the heavy snowfall this year. We’re lucky that no one has been hurt—yet.

Rural waterways and sewer systems, the lifeblood of our communities, can no longer function without critical upgrades to ensure that our drinking water remains clean and uncontaminated. Lawmakers have agreed time and time again that these projects are important, but that we simply aren’t providing the necessary funding for this necessary investment in our infrastructure.

Infrastructure projects represent long term investments in Montana’s economic prosperity down the road, and these investments come with big returns. Every dollar that we spend today will pay dividends in the future, and refusal to invest now, only hurts future generations of Montanans and their opportunities for success.

Democrats in the Montana Legislature are as committed as ever to ensuring that this important work gets done. That’s why Democrats are working across the aisle to finally bring something home this year. We already have a great start with a bipartisan bill that passed out of committee to fund infrastructure projects across the state.

It’s time that legislators come together and start having the tough conversations about what investments need to be made, and how to pay for them. At the end of the day, it shouldn’t be about who gets the credit. It should be about getting something done.

— Rep. Ryan Lynch, District 76