The infrastructure bill’s passage is a huge win for Alaska

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The recently passed bipartisan infrastructure bill, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, is a historic achievement and an unparalleled investment in our state. We want to thank each member of our congressional delegation for putting working Alaskans first and voting for this critical, much-needed legislation.

It is important to note that our delegation did more than vote in for the bill; they helped craft it. Congressman Don Young, who served for many years as chairman of the House Transportation Committee, was one of President Joe Biden’s earliest consultations when this process was getting started. And Sen. Lisa Murkowski came together with a bipartisan group of senators to work with the Biden administration, finalize the bill, and help get it through the Senate.

From day one, Alaska had a meaningful seat at the table — and it paid off. Over the next five years, billions of dollars will flow into our state. These funds will help Alaska build for the future and lead in a meaningful way.

The full impact of the bill is impossible to state in a simple opinion piece, but some of the highlights include the following: fixing roads, bridges and highways; improving and updating our airports and Federal Aviation Administration facilities; supporting our Alaska Marine Highway, including operations and the construction of ferry vessels and ferry terminals; assisting the Alaska Railroad with innovative projects, such as rail safety technologies; providing rural Alaska villages with clean water and sanitation; and deploying broadband to underserved areas.

This bill is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Alaska’s workers. It is a commitment to invest in our futures and the future of this state.

This legislation also comes at an especially opportune time, as we have an incumbent governor who has consistently neglected capital budgets during his tenure. State capital budgets — which provide for targeted infrastructure projects and create local jobs — have been sacrificed in hopes of a supersized Permanent Fund dividend. It’s been a sacrifice in vain, as he is yet to deliver a supersized PFD or an acceptable capital budget. Our tough terrain and our unique climate means that continued infrastructure investments are especially critical, and years of neglect compound costs and harm our society’s most vulnerable.

Our federal delegation has stepped up to fill this gap for Alaska, and we are deeply thankful for Sen. Murkowski, Sen. Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Young for putting Alaska above politics and voting yes on this critical legislation.

Furthermore, this showing of bipartisan statesmanship from our congressional delegation should continue when the Protecting the Right to Organize, or PRO, Act comes to the Senate floor. We need to ensure that if workers want to join a union, they will get a fair shot to do so. The PRO Act will restore fairness to the union election process that has been lost to decades of tinkering by big corporations to tip the scale in their favor.

The majority of Alaskans support the PRO Act, and we also know that many Americans would join a union today if given a chance. Passing the PRO Act will allow millions of American workers to band together and fairly and freely vote to determine if they want to be represented at the bargaining table. We know many Americans would join a union because those jobs provide fair wages, health care, safe working conditions and a dignified retirement.

The jobs provided for in this historic investment could create family-sustaining jobs if the PRO Act passes and workers can fairly and freely organize. We ask Alaskans to take time to thank our U.S. senators and representatives for bringing home this monumental investment in our state and urge them to get the PRO Act passed to ensure prosperity for Alaskans.

Joelle Hall is the president of the Alaska AFL-CIO, which is Alaska’s largest labor organization.

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