As a member of the Duluth City Council, I was extremely disappointed by Rep. Pete Stauber’s April 16 commentary in the News Tribune criticizing President Joe Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan (Congressman’s View: “Hit the brakes on Biden’s partisan ‘infrastructure’ plan”).
Parroting the partisan Republican party line, Stauber claimed the president’s proposal is not really an infrastructure plan. In doing so, however, Stauber conveniently ignored a whole range of local needs supported by the president’s plan, including aging water and stormwater systems, that don’t meet Stauber’s narrow definition of infrastructure.
As a city councilor, among the most difficult challenges I face is balancing the need to invest in our aging water and stormwater systems with the limited ability of local residents to pay the higher utility rates needed to maintain those systems in the absence of federal support. And yet, according to Stauber, federal investment in local water and stormwater systems doesn’t really “count” as infrastructure. Try telling that to the numerous local residents who experience water main breaks each winter or who suffered property damage from the 2012 flood when our stormwater system was overwhelmed.
President Biden proposes to raise the corporate income tax modestly in order to fund a wide range of infrastructure needs, including transportation, broadband, school facilities (which Rep. Stauber also doesn’t count as infrastructure), clean-energy development, and local utility systems. If local utility infrastructure is left off that list, as Stauber suggests, those costs fall squarely on local residents.
There were many who had hoped Rep. Stauber would put the needs of the district ahead of those of his party and ahead of the interests of his corporate backers. He has a chance here to do that.
Rep. Stauber, please support federal investment in local infrastructure, including water and stormwater systems.
The writer is the elected representative of District 2 on the Duluth City Council.
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