My Turn: NH’s federal delegation delivered for Granite Staters

For the Monitor
Published: 1/6/2022 6:30:46 AM
Modified: 1/6/2022 6:30:07 AM

We can all agree that the last two years have been like none other for our state. But as tough as this time has been for New Hampshire, many of the challenges facing our communities existed long before this pandemic and will exist long after — unless we take action.

From crumbling roads and bridges and a lack of high-speed internet to the growing threats of cyber attacks and climate change, the challenges our state faces are real and the solutions are long overdue. Thankfully, New Hampshire has the opportunity to emerge from the pandemic stronger than we ever were before now that President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

This bipartisan infrastructure package, which New Hampshire’s Congressional Delegation played a central role in negotiating and securing, is a critical opportunity for our country and our state to build an economy that will lift up everyone, attract new businesses and prepare us for the future.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will help our state address these challenges. Through the leadership of Sens. Shaheen and Hassan, Congresswoman Kuster and Congressman Pappas, this bill delivers for families and businesses across New Hampshire.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will dedicate $1.1 billion to improve highways, $225 million for bridge replacement and repairs over five years and $125 million over five years to improve public transportation options across the state. And, 209,000 people in New Hampshire will also be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit, which will help low-income families afford internet access.

In addition to repairing what was built in the past, this law helps New Hampshire build a more dynamic, innovative future. Through provisions negotiated by Sens. Shaheen and Hassan, New Hampshire will receive a minimum of $100 million to expand high-speed internet to rural areas.

This will equip Granite Staters with the tools they need to compete in the digital job market. It also will be a game changer for rural small businesses and will ensure that students in every corner of our state have the resources they need to receive a 21st-century education.

This legislation both allows us to take advantage of tomorrow’s opportunities as well as prepare us for tomorrow’s challenges. In measures that were negotiated directly by Sen. Hassan, this bill strengthens our cybersecurity defenses. It has become increasingly clear that hacking and ransomware attacks are a threat to New Hampshire schools and local governments.

This spring, the attack on the Colonial pipeline led to a spike in gas prices nationwide, and here in New Hampshire, Sunapee School District and the city of Peterborough faced ransomware attacks. This bill provides $1 billion in grants to state and local governments to create their own cybersecurity plan, and guarantees that a quarter of these grants would go to rural communities. By bolstering our cyber defenses, towns and cities across New Hampshire will be better protected from cyber threats.

Importantly, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will help Granite Staters tackle the threats posed by climate change. By providing $73 billion in clean energy technology, funding electric vehicle charging stations, and strengthening our coastal resiliency, this bipartisan law will help ensure that we are building a more dynamic, clean energy economy.

Finally, as both a state representative and a proud Granite Stater, I appreciate that this law was written and passed in a bipartisan way. New Hampshire residents expect their leaders to be independent and to work together to deliver results.

In today’s polarized political climate, both in Concord and Washington, it is crucial to remember what bipartisan leadership can accomplish. Our federal delegation embodied that same brand of leadership that represents New Hampshire at its best, and in doing so, delivered this investment for our economy and our state.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will modernize every aspect of our infrastructure and will give us the foundation for an economy that works for every Granite Stater. After two years where we were all pushed to the brink, our federal delegation delivered the tools New Hampshire needs to build a brighter future for our state and rebuild and grow our economy.

Thanks to Sen. Shaheen and Sen. Hassan, Congresswoman Kuster, Congressman Pappas and President Biden, we will be able to rebuild from the pandemic and create a stronger economy that takes advantage of every opportunity and lifts up our neighbors.

(Matt Wilhelm represents Hillsborough 42 (Manchester Wards 1-3) in the NH House of Representatives and is the chair of the NH House Dems Victory Committee.)

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