The US Government’s fiscal year ended on September 30th. According to data from the US Treasury Department the budget deficit for calendar year 2020, totaled $3.13 trillion. This dwarfs the previous year’s budget deficit of $984 billion, and it more than doubles the previous record deficit of $1.41 trillion set in 2009 during the Great Recession and financial crisis.
Much of the deficit that was created was due to stimulus spending from the COVID-19, coronavirus pandemic. There have been multiple pieces of legislation passed this year that caused our budget deficit to swell dramatically, the largest of which was the CARES Act passed in late March of this year that totaled more than $2.2 trillion.
The debate will go on for years as to the effectiveness and necessity of stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment benefits, Payroll Protection Plan loans for small business owners and bailouts for the airline industry. While most economists agree that the speed and staggering amounts of money spent during this pandemic likely kept us from going into a significantly worse recession or depression-like scenario, it is also true that most of the money has been spent. There are plans for more stimulus, if both sides of the aisle can agree to an amount and to spending priorities.
However, there has been little in the way of long-term, tangible investment made from all of the money allocated. There has been talk about our failing infrastructure including roads, bridges, dams, water systems, airports, etc. for many years. During the Obama administration there was talk of shovel ready projects that never saw ground break. More recently, the President as well as Congressional leaders on both sides have talked about the need for rebuilding our aging infrastructure.
Rebuilding would give us tangible benefits for generations to come. It would create significant jobs and income for US workers, and it would create a safer United States for all of us.
According to a recent report from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), our infrastructure is literally crumbling beneath our feet. 38% of US bridges are in need of some type of repair according to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. One out of every 13 bridges have been identified as having some type of structural deficiency and Americans cross these bridges 178 million times a day.
The 2020 report card from the ASCE is attached below for you to review. It is stunning to think that they have not given our roads a grade above D+ in at least 20 years. What’s worse, as limited dollars have to be stretched across significant needs, state and local authorities have to figure out how to best triage and allocate funds to what is most needed, while the rest continue to deteriorate.
As we recently saw when we went to the polls, we want you to remember that you have a voice. You had city, state and local officials that you voted for. They all have office hours, email and social media pages. As they continue to spend the tax dollars you pay, you can reach out to them and express your concern and opinions. This is NOT a partisan issue. The safety of our infrastructure affects all Americans. We want to keep you informed about real issues that will affect society and our families as we all continue “Moving Life Forward” together.
The American Society of Civil Engineers hasn’t given roads a grade above a "D+" in at least 20 years.
© 2020 Jesse Hurst